Thursday, February 8, 2018

Georgia Supreme Court Issues New Rule on Recording Devices

Issued by the Georgia Supreme Court on February 6, 2018:

"The following order was passed:

It is ordered that Uniform Superior Court Rule 22, which relates to the use of electronic devices in courtrooms and recording of judicial proceedings by representatives of the news media and other persons, be amended. The amended Rule 22, which is the product of several years of study and discussion by the Council of Superior Court Judges, this Court, and numerous organizations that provided written and oral comments on proposed rule drafts, replaces the existing Rule 22 in its entirety.  The amended rule continues to implement OCGA § 15-1-10.1 but is updated to reflect developments over the last two decades in recording technology, in the news media, and, most significantly, in recording devices – namely, the smart phones and other mobile computers with recording capabilities that today are routinely carried and used by most people in this state.  The amended Rule 22 will take effect on May 1,2018, and reads as follows:



(A) Overview.

Open courtrooms are an indispensable element of an effective and respected judicial system. It is the policy of Georgia’s courts to promote access to and understanding of court proceedings not only by the participants in them but also by the general public and by news media who will report on the proceedings to the public. This must be done, however, while protecting the legal rights of the participants in the proceedings and ensuring appropriate security and decorum. 

Except as otherwise required by law, this rule governs the use of devices to record sounds or images in a courtroom and comports with the standards provided in OCGA § 15-1-10.1 regarding the use of devices to record judicial proceedings. 

This rule similarly governs the use of electronic devices, including mobile phones and computers, in a courtroom for purposes other than recording sounds and images. Such use is generally allowed by lawyers, by employees of lawyers, and by self-represented parties, but to ensure decorum and avoid distraction, such use is generally prohibited by jurors, witnesses, parties, and spectators, including representatives of the news media. Such persons may, however, use their devices by stepping outside the courtroom, and nothing in this rule prevents a judge from permitting parties and spectators to use their devices for non-recording purposes as the judge may allow in his or her discretion.

A court must use reasonable means to advise courtroom visitors of the provisions of this rule and must make the form in Exhibit A available in its clerk’s office and on the court's website."

The full order is available in PDF at:

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