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Expanded News Media

Do I need to request Expanded News Media Coverage (ENMC) before oral arguments in the supreme court or court of appeals?

Yes. Broadcasting, recording, photographing, texting, blogging, or tweeting real-time electronic coverage of judicial proceedings is prohibited without prior authorization from the chief justice of the supreme court or chief judge of the court of appeals. The deadline for filing the ENMC request is no later than the Friday immediately preceding the week in which the argument is to be held, so you should contact the Appellate Court News Media Coordinator early in the week preceding the arguments. To help plan ahead, a schedule of the cases to be argued before the supreme court is on the Iowa Judicial Branch website.

Who is the Appellate Court News Media Coordinator?

Jannay Towne
WHO-TV Des Moines
Phone: (515) 242-3785
Fax: (515) 242-2796

May I bring recording equipment into the courtroom to cover oral arguments?

Yes. With advance approval by the chief justice or chief judge recording equipment is permitted in designated areas of the courtroom for oral arguments. However, no more than five members of the news media using still cameras, television cameras, audio recorders, and electronic devices are permitted in the courtroom during a proceeding for recording, live streaming, or both. Pooling is required if there is additional news media.

Is there a difference between covering a district court trial in a county courthouse and covering an appellate court oral argument in the Judicial Branch Building?

There are more similarities than differences. The notification time is less for the appellate courts and there are fewer restrictions on the types of cases that can be covered and who can object to the coverage, but members of the news media using any electronic device are still required to:

  • Wear identification stating the person’s name and media affiliation
  • Have all equipment in place and ready to go at least fifteen minutes prior to the scheduled start of the proceeding.
  • Operate the equipment from a fixed position only—news media personnel may not move about the courtroom or move in a way that distracts from the proceeding. The location will be approved by the chief justice or chief judge and Judicial Branch Communications Director.
  • Keep equipment in place until the court is adjourned.
  • Turn off cell phones and laptops, unless you have advanced permission to tweet, blog, or take electronic notes.
  • Wear proper attire and maintain proper decorum at all times while covering the proceeding.
What if I only want to use my cell phone, laptop, or tablet to text, blog, or tweet real-time coverage of the oral arguments?

A request to use such devices (identified in the ENMC order as “Other Electronic Devices”) in the courtroom must be filed as part of the ENMC request. Everyone covering the courts as part of the ENMC order must notify the news media coordinator or the Judicial Branch Communications Director in advance of the oral arguments and agree to comply with all court rules. You should familiarize yourself with the ENMC rules (PDF).

If I know the court issued an order allowing expanded news media coverage, do I still need to contact the Appellate Court News Media Coordinator if I was not part of the initial request?

Yes. Pooling may be required if there are more cameras and recording equipment than space allows. Also, the Judicial Branch Communications Director must know in advance all members of the news media who are texting, blogging, or tweeting real-time coverage of the oral arguments from the courtroom.

May I interview the attorneys after the oral argument?

Yes, but it is important to plan ahead and contact the parties or attorneys prior to the oral arguments for permission and to schedule interviews for two reasons.

  1. Judicial Branch Building policies prohibit interviews inside the building and limits all interviews and news conferences the designated news media area located on to the lower terrace on the north end of the building plaza and the public sidewalk adjacent to Court Avenue.
  2. If the case you are covering is the first of several arguments in a single court session, you must keep equipment in place until the court is adjourned to avoid disrupting the proceedings. For criminal cases in which attorneys from the state appellate defender’s office or attorney general’s office are involved, contact information for both offices is below.

Office of the Attorney General of Iowa
Hoover State Office Building
1305 E. Walnut Street
Des Moines IA 50319
Geoff Greenwood, Communications Director
(515) 281-6699

Office of State Appellate Defender
4th Floor Lucas Building
321 E. 12th Street
Des Moines, IA 50319-0087
Tel: (515) 281-8841

Do all the same rules apply if the supreme court hears oral arguments in a location outside the Judicial Branch Building?

Yes, you still need to file an ENMC request. The supreme court hears oral arguments outside the Judicial Branch Building six times a year. The one exception is that in each law school or community the court visits, the justices hear only one case so interviews with the parties, attorneys, or members of the audience may be conducted immediately following the oral argument in an area in the building approved by the Judicial Branch Communications Director. You also may want to arrive earlier than usually required to work with the communications director to identify a location for your cameras and to assess the site’s sound system.

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