Supreme Court Seeks Public Comment on Proposed Amendments to Rules for Expanded Media Coverage PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Steve Davis   
Monday, 28 October 2013 14:59

Des Moines, October 28, 2013 —Today, the Iowa Supreme Court released a proposal to revise the Iowa Court Rules for Expanded Media Coverage (EMC) —the court rules regulating audio and video recording and photography of courtroom procedures. The proposal broadens the court's definition of news media and allows for live electronic reporting, such as tweeting and blogging, from the courtroom by members of the news media, with advance approval from the presiding judge. The court seeks feedback on the proposed revisions to the rules during a 60-day public comment period.

The proposal is the product of a ten-month review by a fifteen-person supreme court advisory committee consisting of Iowa judges, attorneys, and members of the media. The supreme court requested the review because judges and court staff are faced with bloggers, smart phones, and twitter, among other forms of technology that are not specifically addressed in current rules. The EMC rules were first approved by the supreme court in 1979 and have been only slightly modified since that time.

"I thought the committee did an excellent job of considering all the tools used by journalists today and revised the rules in a way that prepares for future changes in technology," Justice Zager said. "The proposed rules are intended to address modern news gathering practices in the courtroom while protecting the right of parties to a fair trial, personal privacy, and safety. The proposed rules also keep safeguards in place to preserve the decorum and dignity of our court proceedings, and assuring the fair administration of justice."

The proposed revisions would allow media coverage of initial appearances in criminal cases with approval of the presiding judge. The revised rules would allow the request for media coverage to be made either in writing or orally to the magistrate or judge presiding over the initial appearance, subject to an oral objection by the prosecutor, defendant, or defendant's counsel.

"Iowa historically has been at the forefront of allowing open access to its court proceedings, and the proposed revisions to the rules for expanded media coverage will prepare Iowa's courts for the reality of modern digital news-gathering and publishing." Iowa Freedom of Information Council Executive Director Kathleen Richardson said. "The revisions, if adopted, would also provide more consistency in courtrooms across the state."

Any interested individual or organization may submit comments to the supreme court by January 6, 2014. The proposed revisions to the Iowa Court Rules for Expanded Media Coverage and instructions for submitting comments can be located at http://www.iowacourts.gov/About_the_Courts/Advisory_Committees/Expanded_Media_Coverage_Rules_Committee/

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Iowa Supreme Court

1111 East Court Avenue

Des Moines, IA 50319

515-281-3952
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