Reporters covering court hearings and press conferences in Cook County are allowed to bring their computers and cellphones to the 26th and California Criminal Courthouse to do their work.
Not more, according to an order issued Wednesday by Chief District Court Judge Erica Reddick.
Effective immediately, "All media and members of the public, except employees and authorized personnel, must not bring cell phones, laptops or any electronic devices into the George N. Layton Criminal Courthouse."
Television film crews are prohibited from recording in the building's lobby media area, the order said.
Chief Justice spokesman Tim Evans said in a statement that the ban stemmed from an incident this week in which a media representative took a photo with a cell phone in violation of court rules.
A source told the Sun-Times that the TV reporter was in the courtroom this week when a sheriff's deputy saw them taking pictures and taking pictures on his phone. The deputy approached the journalist and asked him to remove the photos, to which the journalist said he had already sent them to the editorial office.
A spokeswoman for the sheriff's department could not immediately provide additional information about the incident.
A spokesman said Evans would meet with members of the media on Friday to "discuss future expectations".
Matt Topic, a lawyer specializing in the Open Government Act, called the ban "excessive."
“While courts must respect integrity and apply their own rules, the ban, which applies to all journalists, including a large number who have brought mobile phones to court for years without incident, seems excessive and worrisome. being First Amendment issues,” Subject said. .
Gone are the days when reporters grabbed their pads and rushed to courthouse lobby phone booths to tell their stories. Journalists now rely on their phones and computers to take notes, write texts, inform the public on social media, and save their stories.
Most citizens are not allowed to bring their phones into court. An exception is made for the jury.
Clerks, attorneys and members of the media are usually allowed into the courthouse with phones and computers, and Cook County sheriff's deputies usually check them in through a separate entrance. Journalists must present their media identification with a photo ID issued by the Chicago Police Department.
The chief justice's office said clerks and lawyers will be allowed to bring electronic devices because they are considered "authorized employees" under the earlier order.
The judge, who works in the building but spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the order, said the ban on cellphones in public places was primarily the result of fears that people would take pictures of witnesses as they testified.
He said he thinks the media exception should continue, and he thinks most of the other judges in the House would agree.