Bradford County Toughens Restrictions on Courthouse Cellphone Use

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In a memo to the Bradford County Bar Association, Bradford County employees and visitors to the Bradford County Courthouse, President Judge Maureen Beirne indicated that cellphone use in the courthouse, especially on the second floor where court proceedings are ongoing, has become a big problem.

In her memo dated April 18, Beirne issued a Prohibition of cell phones and electronic devices in courthouse effective May 15, 2017.

The following is an edit of the declaration:

The Court of Common Pleas of the 42nd Judicial District with support of the Bradford County Commissioners and Bradford County Sheriff has entered an Order prohibiting cell phones and electronic devices in the Bradford County Courthouse effective May 15, 2017.

We have had instances of individuals using such devices to take pictures of defendants, sheriff deputies and probation officers in the courthouse. We recently had an instance of an individual recording a hearing.

As explained in the “Cell Phone and Electronic Device Policy” the Pennsylvania Rules of Judicial Administration prohibit photos, recording, televising and broadcasting in the courtroom and areas immediately adjacent hereto.

Therefore, because of the difficulty in policing the courthouse for instances of prohibited cell phone or electronic device use, a policy must be entered prohibiting such devices. The policy will be published in the Bradford County Law Journal and on the Bradford County/Courts/Court Administration Website.

There are six categories of exceptions:

  1. Bradford County Employees
  2. Law Enforcement
  3. Attorneys
  4. Jurors
  5. Individuals in the Courthouse on official business related to their employment
  6. Evidentiary or photographic purposes.

These are further detailed at the following link: (http://www.bradfordcountypa.org/application/files/6014/9261/7447/Cell_Phone_Policy.pdf)

Beirne continues…If you fall within one of the exceptions, the Cell Phone and Electronic Device Policy will explain what is required to enter the courthouse with a cell phone or cellular device.

Even if you fall within one of the exceptions, you are still prohibited from using the cell phone or electronic device for photographing, videoing, recording or transmitting communications in or from the courthouse.

Also, as has always been the policy, such devices must be turned completely off in a courtroom. There will be a limited number of lockers that can be used for storage of devices. However, if the lockers are all in use, an individual will have to leave the device in their vehicle.

Thank you for your cooperation in instituting this policy. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me or Court Administration.

 

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