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Media Policy of the
U.S. Courts of the D.C. Circuit
In the interest of informing the public about the work of the Courts, the U.S. Courts of the D.C. Circuit welcome media coverage of cases. To assist members of the media who cover cases in the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse and the William B. Bryant Annex, the Courts' media policy is noted below:
- Cell Phones, Laptops, and Other Electronic Devices – Members of the media who are credentialed by either Court for a specific trial or proceeding or who are credentialed by another federal or D.C. government entity, including, the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, a federal agency, or the D.C. government are allowed to bring electronic devices with camera and recording capabilities into the courthouse and annex.
Access to Hearings and Trials – In most cases, hearings and trials are open to members of the media and the public. In certain high-profile cases, the Courts may put special procedures in place to address the unique issues related to conducting a high-profile case. The use of electronic devices in courtrooms is governed by the following:
Court of Appeals – All electronic devices with cellular or WiFi capability must be turned off or put in airplane mode before entering a courtroom, and no transmissions are permitted from any courtroom in which a Court of Appeals proceeding is being held.
District and Bankruptcy Courts – Electronic devices may be used to transmit and receive data communications, such as email or text messages, and to access the Internet ONLY with the express prior approval of the presiding judge. Without such approval, all electronic devices with cellular or WiFi capability must be turned off or put in airplane mode before entering a district or bankruptcy courtroom.
Any violation of this policy may result in the imposition of contempt sanctions against the violator individually, and, if attending in the capacity of an employee or agent, against the employer or principal. In addition, members of the media who violate this policy will be prohibited from entering the courthouse and annex with electronic devices in the future.
Use of Cameras and Recording and Videotaping Devices – The use of any device to photograph, record, or videotape court proceedings is prohibited except in connection with ceremonial and educational functions of the Courts (naturalization proceedings, investitures of new judges, memorial services, portrait presentation ceremonies, etc.). Videotaping, recording, or photographing court ceremonies and educational programs may be permitted with prior approval of the chief judge or court unit executive of the sponsoring Court and under such conditions as he or she may prescribe. Any violation of this policy may result in the imposition of contempt sanctions against the violator individually, and, if attending in the capacity of an employee or agent, against the employer or principal. In addition, members of the media who violate this policy will be prohibited from entering the courthouse and annex with electronic devices in the future.
Media Room (Prettyman Courthouse – Room 1206) – In certain high-profile District Court cases, the Media Room will provide a remote location for video and audio transmission of proceedings. While members of the media may use laptops and tablets in this room, video and audio recording or transmission of court proceedings are strictly prohibited. Any violation of this policy may result in the banning of all laptops and tablets from the Media Room, the closing of the Media Room, the imposition of contempt sanctions against the violator individually, and, if attending in the capacity of an employee or agent, against the employer or principal. In addition, members of the media who violate this policy will be prohibited from entering the courthouse and annex with electronic devices in the future.
Press Conferences – The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property (41 CFR 102-74.390) prohibit the obstruction of the use of entrances, foyers, lobbies, corridors, offices, elevators, stairways, and parking lots by people entering or on federal property.
Members of the media must not crowd or in any way impede passage by any person who has business with the Courts in the courthouse or annex.
Members of the media, including camera crews, must not block or crowd entrances to the courthouse or annex as people are attempting to enter or exit.
Press conferences must be conducted outside the courthouse and annex. Press conferences are typically held in front of the courthouse on the plaza facing Constitution Avenue.
Access to Court Records – PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) is an electronic public access service that allows users to obtain case and docket information for federal circuit, district, and bankruptcy courts, and the U.S. Party/Case Index via the Internet. Links to all courts are provided on the Courts’ Internet sites. Electronic access is available by registering with the PACER Service Center, the judiciary’s centralized registration, billing, and technical support center. The PACER site can be found at http://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov.
Court Transcripts – Information about ordering transcripts may be found on each Court’s Internet site.
Obtaining a Media Account – Members of the media may obtain a media account through PACER that allows them to sign up for email alerts of any cases they are following. For more information, go to each Court’s Internet site.
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
- U.S. District Court for D.C.