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Expanded News Media

I'm a journalist who heard about an arrest last night, and the initial appearance is scheduled for this morning. I want to cover it with video or still photography. Do I need to contact the regional expanded news media coverage coordinator?

No. Under the Iowa Court Rules Chapter 25 (25.2(4)), a request for Expanded News Media Coverage (ENMC) of initial appearances in criminal proceedings is made directly to the presiding judicial officer orally or in writing. The defendant has the right to object to ENMC, and the judicial officer may rule on the basis of the oral objection. ENMC is permitted unless the judicial officer concludes that such coverage would materially interfere with the rights of the parties to a fair trial (25.2(2)). However, if you want to cover subsequent judicial proceedings in this case, you must apply for ENMC through the regional coordinator.

I see that the rules require that news media representatives participating in ENMC wear an ID that states the person’s name and media affiliation in the courtroom and identify themselves as a member of the news media when joining a court proceeding by video conference or teleconference. Will the court provide a photo ID? How do I identify myself on a conference call or video conference?

The Iowa Freedom of Information Council (IFOIC) is currently providing ENMC training throughout the state. Attendees will receive an Iowa FOI Council courtroom photo ID badge that will signify to court officials the person has completed this training. Contact the regional IFOIC Executive Director for information on the next training. It is the member of the news media's responsibility to wear a badge that is clearly visible to the judge and jury. When joining a court proceeding by videoconference, be sure to update your identification to include your media affiliation. If you are asked to identify yourself during a court proceeding by teleconference, state your name and media affiliation.

I recently learned that a judge schedule an upcoming hearing to be held by videoconference. Am I allowed to record the videoconference?

Not unless an ENMC order filed by the judge in the case. Broadcasting, recording, photographing, texting, blogging, capturing screen shots, or tweeting real-time electronic coverage of judicial proceedings held by teleconference, videoconference, or broadcast is prohibited unless the presiding judicial officer expressly permits coverage in advance of the proceeding.

The rules allow a maximum of five electronic devices in the courtroom to record video and audio and to capture still photographs (25.4(3)). But the courtrooms in my district are too small to accommodate more than one TV camera. What should we do?

The judicial officer has the discretion to approve ENMC in a way that allows transparency while avoiding disruption of court proceedings. The judicial officer can work with the regional coordinator to determine the appropriate number of devices and where they will be placed in the courtroom. Members of the news media may be required to collaborate to pool coverage. If a news organization is incapable of contributing to the pool, the regional coordinator is allowed to restrict the organization's participation or allow it to share coverage.

The ENMC rules allow members of the news media to use electronic devices like cell phones and tablets to text, blog, or Tweet real-time coverage of judicial proceedings, so long as they aren't distracting (25.4(4)(d)). Is there any limit on the number of such devices allowed in the courtroom?

No. However, a request to use such devices in the courtroom is now required to be filed with the court and all parties at least seven days in advance of the proceeding (25.3(2)). Journalists must file an ENMC request in advance of that deadline with the appropriate regional coordinator, who fills out the official notice and request form and distributes it. Journalists must contact the regional coordinator as soon as they know they want to cover a judicial proceeding, to ensure timely filing of a request. In addition, the judicial officer presiding over the proceeding can limit the number of electronic devices in the courtroom to avoid disruption.

I write a blog that provides news and commentary on events in my community. Can I apply for ENMC to blog from a trial in my local courthouse?

Yes. Chapter 25 allows "any person who regularly gathers, prepares, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information about matters of public interest in any medium" to apply for ENMC. However, you must apply through the regional coordinator, like any other member of the news media, and "agree to comply with all court rules." Familiarize yourself with the ENMC rules, including the prohibition on coverage of jurors and conferences between attorneys and their clients, and the importance of being discreet and non-distracting in your work.

My news organization wants to live stream a trial. Can we do that under the rules?

Yes. The new ENMC rules accommodate live streaming as part of rules governing audio, video, and still photography coverage of judicial proceedings.

Do the ENMC rules allow electronic coverage of jury selection and of the jury?

Rule 25.2(6) allows expanded news media coverage of the return of the jury's verdict. In all other circumstances, expanded news media coverage of jurors is prohibited except to the extent "it is unavoidable in the coverage of other trial participants or courtroom proceedings." This means that while reporting on jury selection is permitted, electronic coverage — including Tweeting, blogging and other live electronic coverage — is prohibited.

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