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Administrative Rules of the Unified Court System & Uniform Rules of the Trial Courts


Rules of the Chief Administrative Judge


PART 131. Audio-visual Coverage Of Judicial Proceedings
 

131.1 Purpose; general provisions
131.2 Definitions
131.3 Application for audio-visual coverage
131.4 Review
131.5 Mandatory pretrial conference.
131.6 Use and deployment of equipment and personnel by the news media.
131.7 Additional restrictions on coverage
131.8 Supervision of audio-visual coverage
131.9 Appellate courts.
131.10Forms

Section 131.1 Purpose; general provisions.

(a)   In order to maintain the broadest scope of public access to the courts, to preserve public confidence in the Judiciary, and to foster public understanding of the role of the Judicial Branch in civil society, it is the policy of the Unified Court System to facilitate the audio-visual coverage of court proceedings to the fullest extent permitted by  the New York Civil Rights Law and other statutes, as interpreted by New York courts, pursuant to the rules set forth below

(b)   Audio-visual coverage of proceedings in which the testimony of parties or witnesses by subpoena or other compulsory process is or may be taken is prohibited.  (See, Civil Rights Law §52.) 

(c)   Audio-visual coverage of party or witness testimony in any court proceeding (other than a plea at an arraignment) is prohibited.

(d)  Nothing in these rules is intended to restrict any preexisting right of the news media to appear at and to report on judicial proceedings in accordance with law.

(e)  Nothing in these rules is intended to restrict the power and discretion of the presiding trial judge to control the conduct of judicial proceedings.

(f)  No judicial proceeding shall be scheduled, delayed, reenacted or continued at the request of, or for the convenience of, the news media.

 (g)  In addition to their specific responsibilities as provided in these rules, all presiding trial judges and all administrative judges shall take whatever steps are necessary to insure that audio- visual coverage is conducted without disruption of court activities, without detracting from or interfering with the dignity or decorum of the court, courtrooms and court facilities, without compromise of the safety of persons having business before the court, and without adversely affecting the administration of justice.

Historical Note
Sec. filed July 14, 1986; renum. 133.1, new filed Dec. 2, 1987; amds. filed: Oct. 17, 1989; Nov. 12, 1992; March 23, 1995 eff. March 23, 1995. Amended (b).

 

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Section 131.2 Definitions.

For purposes of this Part:

(a)  "Administrative judge" shall mean the administrative judge of each judicial district; the administrative judge of Nassau County or of Suffolk County; the administrative judge of the Civil Court of the City of New York, the Criminal Court of the City of New York or the Family Court of the City of New York; or the presiding judge of the Court of Claims.

(b)  "Audio-visual coverage" or "coverage" shall mean the electronic broadcasting or other transmission to the public of radio or television signals from the courtroom, or the recording of sound or light in the courtroom for later transmission or reproduction, or the taking of still or motion pictures in the courtroom by the news media.  To the extent required by current legal authority, it shall also mean the taking of still pictures.

(c)  "News media" shall mean any news-reporting or news-gathering agency and any employee or agent associated with such agency, including television, radio, radio and television networks, news services, newspapers, magazines, trade papers, in-house publications, professional journals, or any other news- reporting or news-gathering agency, the function of which is to inform the public or some segment thereof.

(d)  "Presiding trial judge" shall mean the justice or judge presiding over judicial proceedings at which audio-visual coverage is authorized pursuant to this Part.

 (e)  "Judicial proceedings" shall mean the proceedings of a court or a judge thereof conducted in a courtroom or any other facility being used as a courtroom.

(f)  "Child" shall mean a person who has not attained the age of 16 years.

 (g)  "Arraignment" shall have the same meaning as such term is defined in subdivision nine of section 1.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987; amds. filed: Oct. 17, 1989; Nov. 12, 1992 eff. Nov. 5, 1992. Amended (i); added (j)-(k).

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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Section 131.3 Application for audio-visual coverage.

(a)  Coverage of judicial proceedings shall be permitted only upon order of the presiding trial judge approving an oral or written application made by a representative of the news media for permission to conduct such coverage.

(b)  Upon receipt of an application, the presiding trial judge shall conduct such review as may be appropriate, including:

(1)  consultation with the news media applicant;

(2)  consultation with counsel to all parties to the proceeding of which coverage is sought, who shall be responsible for identifying any concerns or objections of the parties, prospective witnesses, and victims, if any, with respect to the proposed coverage, and advising the court thereof;

(3)  review of all statements or affidavits presented to the presiding trial judge concerning the proposed coverage.

Where the proceedings of which coverage is sought involve a child, a victim, or a party, any of whom object to such coverage, and in any other appropriate instance, the presiding trial judge may hold such conferences and conduct any direct inquiry as may be fitting.

 (c)

(1)  Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (2) hereof or section 131.87 of this Part, consent of the parties or other participants in judicial proceedings of which coverage is sought is not required for approval of an application for such coverage.

(2)  An application for audio-visual coverage of a trial proceeding in which a jury is sitting, made after commencement of such proceeding, shall not be approved unless counsel to all parties to such proceeding consent to such coverage; provided, however, this paragraph shall not apply where coverage is sought only of the verdict or sentencing, or both, in such proceeding.

 (d)  In determining an application for coverage, the presiding trial judge shall consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

(1)  the type of case involved;

(2)  whether the coverage would cause harm to any participant;

(3)  whether the coverage would interfere with the fair administration of justice, the advancement of a fair trial, or the rights of the parties;

(4)  whether the coverage would interfere with any law enforcement activity;

(5)  whether the proceedings would involve lewd or scandalous matters;

 (6)  the objections of any of the parties, victims or other participants in the proceeding of which coverage is sought;

 (7)  the physical structure of the courtroom and the likelihood that any equipment required to conduct coverage of proceedings can be installed and operated without disturbance to those proceedings or any other proceedings in the courthouse; and

(8)  the extent to which the coverage would be barred by law in the judicial proceeding of which coverage is sought. The presiding trial judge also shall consider and give great weight to the fact that any party, victim, or other participant in the proceeding is a child.

(e) Following review of an application for coverage of a judicial proceeding, the presiding trial judge, as soon as practicable, shall issue an order, in writing or on the record in open court, approving such application, in whole or in part, or denying it. Such order shall contain any restrictions imposed by the judge on the audio-visual coverage and shall contain a statement advising the parties that any violation of the order is punishable by contempt pursuant to article 19 of the Judiciary Law. Such order shall be included in the record of such proceedings and, unless it wholly approves the application and no party, or victim objected to coverage, it shall state the basis for its determination.

 (f)  Before denying an application for coverage, the presiding trial judge shall consider whether such coverage properly could be approved with the imposition of special limitations, including but not limited to:

(1)  delayed broadcast of the proceedings subject to coverage provided, however, where delayed broadcast is directed, it shall be only for the purpose of assisting the news media to comply with the restrictions on coverage provided by law or by the presiding trial judge;

(2)  modification or prohibition of video or audio-visual coverage of  portions of the proceedings.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987 eff. Dec. 1, 1987.

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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Section 131.4 Determination of the application.

(a) Upon receipt of an application pursuant to section 131.3, the presiding trial judge shall conduct such review as may be appropriate, including:

(1) consultation with the news media applicant;

(2) consultation with counsel to all parties to the proceeding of which coverage is sought, who shall be responsible for identifying any concerns or objections of the parties, prospective witnesses, and victims, if any, with respect to the proposed coverage, and advising the court thereof;

(3) review of all statements or affidavits presented to the presiding trial judge concerning the proposed coverage.

Where the proceedings of which coverage is sought involve a child, a victim, a prospective witness, or a party, any of whom object to such coverage, and in any other appropriate instance, the presiding trial judge may hold such conferences and conduct any direct inquiry as may be fitting.

(b)

(1) Except as otherwise provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) hereof or section 131.8 of this Part, consent of the parties, prospective witnesses, victims or other participants in judicial proceedings of which coverage is sought is not required for approval of an application for such coverage.

(2) An application for audio-visual coverage of a trial proceeding in which a jury is sitting, made after commencement of such proceeding, shall not be approved unless counsel to all parties to such proceeding consent to such coverage; provided, however, this paragraph shall not apply where coverage is sought only of the verdict or sentencing, or both, in such proceeding.

(3) Counsel to each party in a criminal trial proceeding shall advise each nonparty witness that he or she has the right to request that his or her image be visually obscured during said witness' testimony, and upon such request the presiding trial judge shall order the news media to visually obscure the visual image of the witness in any an all audio-visual coverage of the judicial proceeding.

(c) In determining an application for coverage, the presiding trial judge shall consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

(1) the type of case involved;

(2) whether the coverage would cause harm to any participant;

(3) whether the coverage would interfere with the fair administration of justice, the advancement of a fair trial, or the rights of the parties;

(4) whether any order directing the exclusion of witnesses from the courtroom prior to their testimony could be rendered substantially ineffective by allowing audio-visual coverage that could be viewed by such witnesses to the detriment of any party;

(5) whether the coverage would interfere with any law enforcement activity;

(6) whether the proceedings would involve lewd or scandalous matters;

(7) the objections of any of the parties, prospective witnesses, victims or other participants in the proceeding of which coverage is sought;

(8) the physical structure of the courtroom and the likelihood that any equipment required to conduct coverage of proceedings can be installed and operated without disturbance to those proceedings or any other proceedings in the courthouse; and

(9) the extent to which the coverage would be barred by law in the judicial proceeding of which coverage is sought.

The presiding trial judge also shall consider and give great weight to the fact that any party, prospective witness, victim, or other participant in the proceeding is a child.

(d) Following review of an application for coverage of a judicial proceeding, the presiding trial judge, as soon as practicable, shall issue an order, in writing, approving such application, in whole or in part, or denying it. Such order shall contain any restrictions imposed by the judge on the audio-visual coverage and shall contain a statement advising the parties that any violation of the order is punishable by contempt pursuant to article 19 of the Judiciary Law. Such order shall be included in the record of such proceedings and, unless it wholly approves the application and no party, victim or prospective witness objected to coverage, it shall state the basis for its determination.

(e) Before denying an application for coverage, the presiding trial judge shall consider whether such coverage properly could be approved with the imposition of special limitations, including but not limited to:

(1) delayed broadcast of the proceedings subject to coverage provided, however, where delayed broadcast is directed, it shall be only for the purpose of assisting the news media to comply with the restrictions on coverage provided by law or by the presiding trial judge;

(2) modification or prohibition of audio-visual coverage of individual parties, witnesses, or other trial participants, or portions of the proceedings; or

(3) modification or prohibition of video coverage of individual parties, witnesses, or other trial participants, or portions of the proceedings.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987; amds. filed: Oct. 17, 1989; Nov. 12, 1992 eff. Nov. 5, 1992. Amended (b)-(d).

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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Section 131.4 Review.

No judicial proceeding shall be delayed or continued to allow for review of an order denying coverage in whole or in part.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987; amd. filed Oct. 17, 1989 eff. Oct. 11, 1989. Amended (d).

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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Section 131.5 Mandatory pretrial conference.

(a) Where a presiding trial judge has approved, in whole or in part, an application for coverage of any judicial proceeding, the judge, before any such coverage is to begin, shall conduct a pretrial conference for the purpose of reviewing, with counsel to all parties to the proceeding and with representatives of the news media who will provide such coverage, any objections to coverage that have been raised, the scope of coverage to be permitted, the nature and extent of the technical equipment and personnel to be deployed, and the restrictions on coverage to be observed. The court may include in the conference any other person whom it deems appropriate, including prospective witnesses and their representatives

(b)  Where two or more representatives of the news media are parties to an approved application for coverage, no such coverage may begin until all such representatives have agreed upon a pooling arrangement for their respective news media prior to the pretrial conference. Such pooling arrangement shall include the designation of pool operators and replacement pool operators for the electronic and motion picture media and for the still photography media, as appropriate. It also shall include procedures for the cost-sharing and dissemination of audio-visual material and shall make due provision for educational users' needs for full coverage of entire proceedings. The presiding trial judge shall not be called upon to mediate or resolve any dispute as to such arrangement. Nothing herein shall prohibit a person or organization that was not party to an approved application for coverage from making appropriate arrangements with the pool operator to be given access to the audio-visual material produced by the pool.

(c)  In determining the scope of coverage to be permitted, the presiding trial judge shall be guided by a consideration of all relevant factors, including those prescribed in subdivision (d) of section 131.3 of this Part. Wherever necessary or appropriate, the presiding trial judge shall, at any time before or during the proceeding, proscribe coverage or modify, expand, impose, or remove special limitations on coverage.

 

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987 eff. Dec. 1, 1987.

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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Section 131.6 Use and deployment of equipment and personnel by the news media.

 

(a)  Limitations upon use of equipment and personnel in the courtroom.

(1)  No more than two electronic or motion picture cameras and two camera operators shall be permitted in any proceeding.

(2)  No more than one photographer to operate two still cameras, with not more than two lenses for each camera, shall be permitted in any proceeding.

(3)  No more than one audio system for broadcast purposes shall be permitted in any proceeding.  Audio pickup for all news media purposes shall be effectuated through existing audio systems in the court facility. If no technically suitable audio system is available, microphones and related wiring essential for media purposes shall be supplied by those persons providing coverage. Any microphones and sound wiring shall be unobtrusive and placed where designated by the presiding trial judge.

(4)  Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraphs (1)-(3) of this subdivision, the presiding trial judge on a finding of special circumstances may modify any restriction on the amount of equipment or number of operating personnel in the courtroom, compatible with the dignity of the court or the judicial process.

(b)  Sound and light criteria.

(1)  Only electronic and motion picture cameras, audio equipment and still camera equipment that do not produce distracting sound or light may be employed to cover judicial proceedings. 

 (2)  No motorized drives, moving lights, flash attachments, or sudden lighting changes shall be permitted during coverage of judicial proceedings.

 (3)  No light or signal visible or audible to trial participants shall be used on any equipment during coverage to indicate whether it is operating.

(4)  With the concurrence of the presiding trial judge and the administrative judge, modifications and additions may be made in light sources existing in the court facility, provided such modifications or additions are installed and maintained at media expense and are not distracting or otherwise offensive.

(c)  Location of equipment and personnel. Electronic and motion picture cameras, still cameras, and camera personnel shall be positioned in such locations as shall be designated by the presiding trial judge. The areas designated shall provide the news media with reasonable access to the persons they wish to cover while causing the least possible interference with court proceedings. Equipment that is not necessary for audio-visual coverage from inside the courtroom shall be located in an area outside the courtroom.

(d)  Movement of equipment and media personnel.  During the proceedings, operating personnel shall not move about, nor shall there be placement, movement or removal of equipment, or the changing of film, film magazines or lenses. All such activities shall take place each day before the proceeding begins, after it ends, or during a recess.

(e)  Identifying insignia.  Identifying marks, call letters, words, and symbols shall be concealed on all equipment. Persons operating such equipment shall not display any identifying insignia on their clothing.

(f)  Other restrictions.  The presiding trial judge may impose any other restriction on the use and deployment of equipment and personnel as may be appropriate.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987; amd. filed Nov. 12, 1992 eff. Nov. 5, 1992. Amended (f).

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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Section 131.7 Additional restrictions on coverage.

(a)  No audio pickup or audio broadcast of conferences that occur in a court facility between attorneys and their clients, between co-counsel of a client, or between counsel and the presiding trial judge, shall be permitted without the prior express consent of all participants in the conference.

(b)  No conference in chambers shall be subject to coverage.

(c)  No coverage of the selection of the prospective jury during voir dire shall be permitted.

(d)  No coverage of the jury, or of any juror or alternate juror, while in the jury box, in the courtroom, in the jury deliberation room, or during recess, or while going to or from the deliberation room at any time, shall be permitted provided, however, that, upon consent of the foreperson of a jury, the presiding trial judge may, in his or her discretion, permit audio coverage of such foreperson delivering a verdict.

 (e)  No coverage shall be permitted of the victim in a prosecution for rape, sodomy, sexual abuse, or other sex offense under article 130 or section 255.25 of the Penal Law; notwithstanding the initial approval of a request for audio-visual coverage of such a proceeding, the presiding trial judge shall have discretion throughout the proceeding to limit any coverage that would identify the victim.

(f)  No coverage of any participant shall be permitted if the presiding trial judge finds that such coverage is liable to endanger the safety of any person.

 (g)  No coverage of any judicial proceedings that are by law closed to the public, or that may be closed to the public and that have been closed by the presiding trial judge, shall be permitted.

(h)  No coverage of any arraignment or suppression hearing shall be permitted without the prior consent of all parties to the proceeding; provided, however, where a party is not yet represented by counsel, consent may not be given unless the party has been advised of his or her right to the aid of counsel pursuant to subdivision 4 of section 170.10 or 180.10 of the Criminal Procedure Law and the party has affirmatively elected to proceed without counsel at such proceeding.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987; amds. filed: Oct. 17, 1989; Nov. 12, 1992 eff. Nov. 5, 1992. Amended (d), (g), (j); added (k).

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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Section 131.8 Supervision of audio-visual coverage.

(a)  Coverage of judicial proceedings shall be subject to the continuing supervision of the presiding trial judge.  No coverage shall take place within the courtroom, whether during recesses or at any other time, when the presiding trial judge is not present and presiding.

(b)  Notwithstanding the approval of an application for permission to provide coverage of judicial proceedings, the presiding trial judge shall have discretion throughout such proceedings to revoke such approval or to limit the coverage authorized in any way.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987; amd. filed Oct. 17, 1989 eff. Oct. 11, 1989. Added (c).

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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Section 131.9 Appellate courts.

These rules shall not apply to coverage of proceedings in appellate courts or affect the rules governing such coverage contained in Part 29 of the Rules of the Chief Judge (22 NYCRR Part 29).

.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987 eff. Dec. 1, 1987.

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

Section 131.10 Forms.

The Chief Administrator will promulgate and make available forms for applications and for judicial orders pursuant to this Part.

Historical Note
Sec. filed Dec. 2, 1987; amds. filed: Oct. 17, 1989; Nov. 12, 1992 eff. Nov. 5, 1992.

Amended on December 29, 2015effective March 1, 2016:

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