The United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois has adopted an emergency rule banning “electronic devices” from federal courthouses. The change in Local Rule 83.7 is in response to the increasing security concerns of the Central District judges. The rule change was effective October 1, 2003; however, the court will accept and consider written comments concerning the emergency revision through November 1, 2003.
The rule change prohibits electronic devices in the courthouse, unless falling under an exception. In addition, because such devices will not be held within the courthouse, the rule urges those entering the courthouse to follow the rule in order to avoid delays in screening.
Rule 83.7 defines “electronic devices” as including “cameras, video recorders, audio recorders, cellular or digital phones, palm pilots and personal data assistants (PDAs) computers, and all similar electronic, cable, digital, computerized or other forms and methods of recording, transmitting, or communicating.”
Exceptions to the rule include the use of electronic devices in ceremonial events such as naturalization proceedings or as otherwise ordered by the presiding judge. Also, the rule does not apply to U.S. Marshals, Deputy U.S. Marshals, Court Security Officers, law enforcement personnel with proper identification, and employees of the Illinois Department of Corrections who have transported state prisoners to court.
Attorneys must gain the permission of the presiding judge to use electronic devices within the courthouse and courtrooms. Furthermore, members of the news media who wish to conduct interviews relating to a court case may contact the presiding judge to seek permission to bring electronic equipment into the courthouse. If such permission is granted, the judge will designate an area of the courthouse where the equipment may be stored and used.
The full text of the rule is available at the District Court Clerk’s office in Springfield, Peoria, Urbana, Rock Island, and on the Central District’s Web site at: <http://www.ilcd.uscourts.gov/>. Comments on the emergency rule may also be sent to: John M. Waters, Clerk, U.S. District Court, 600 E. Monroe, Room 234 Springfield, IL 62701.
*Christopher Minix is a second-year law student at the Southern Illinois University School of Law.