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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ind. Courts - JQC advisory opinion on tweeting and microblogging in courtroom

The issues posed in Advisory Opinion #1-17:

1) Does Rule 2.17’s broadcast prohibition include activities like microblogging or ‘live tweeting’ of witness testimony?
2) Even if microblogging or tweeting is not considered broadcasting, is it ethically permissible for a judge to impose reasonable restrictions on the use of these mediums (and other electronic modes of communication) in the courtroom?
Conclusion of 4-page opinion:
Differing, but equally valid, interests exist between the public’s desire for transparency and immediate information about court proceedings and the judiciary’s obligation to maintain order and decorum in the court as well as to preserve fairness for all courtroom participants. Recognizing the challenge that new technologies bring regarding the transmission of court proceedings, the Commission believes that it is imperative that this delicate balance be preserved so that neither side’s legitimate interests are wholly disregarded.

The Commission’s view is the use of electronic means of instant communication, such as Twitter or microblogging, in the courtroom is not considered broadcasting under Rule 2.17 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, except in those limited situations when a user transmits video or audio of court proceedings or a link to videotaped court testimony. Further, it is the Commission’s view that a judge continues to act within the spirit of the Code of Judicial Conduct if he or she imposes reasonable restrictions on how and when an individual may use Twitter or other electronic communication tools during courtroom proceedings.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 14, 2017 10:01 AM
Posted to Indiana Courts