Friday, December 7, 2012

Supreme Court Appoints Committee to Review Expanded Media Coverage Rules

Des Moines, December 7, 2012 Today, the Iowa Supreme Court appointed a committee to review the Expanded Media Coverage (EMC) Rules that allow audio and video recording and photography of courtroom procedures. The EMC Rules were first approved by the supreme court in 1979 and have been slightly modified since that time.

 "As a district judge I enjoyed a good relationship with the members of the media covering high profile trials," Iowa Supreme Court Justice and Committee Chair Bruce Zager said. "Working with radio, television and print media was a collaborative effort that generally worked well. Today, judges and court staff are faced with requests from the media to use new technology in the courtroom such as laptops and smartphones for blogging and twitter. Those types of technologies and media are not specifically addressed in current rules which can cause some confusion in implementing the EMC Rules. The efforts of this committee will help both members of the media and members of the court navigate through media requests unheard of 10 years ago."

Prior to 1979, recording equipment and cameras were only allowed in the courtroom for ceremonial proceedings or educational purposes. The rules were changed because of the improvement in equipment and procedures used by the media and the desire of the supreme court for the judicial branch to be more open and accessible to the public. The EMC rules were first approved for a one year pilot period. The first trial covered under EMC Rules was a first degree murder trial in Black Hawk County, in 1980. The rules were made permanent after a successful pilot period.

"Most Iowans do not have the time to attend court proceedings, so they depend upon the media to keep them informed of the work of the courts," Justice Zager said. "For more than 30 years, the courts have worked with the media to allow audio and video coverage to the fullest extent possible without impinging the rights of litigants to a fair trial."

The Expanded Media Coverage Rules Committee members are:
Honorable Bruce Zager, Supreme Court Justice, Waterloo, Chair   
Honorable Robert Hanson, District Judge, Des Moines
Honorable Christine Dalton, District Associate Judge, Davenport    
Kent Wirth, District Court Administrator, Council Bluffs
Jennifer Miller, Marshall County Attorney, Marshalltown                   
Gregg Jones, Woodbury County Public Defender, Sioux City          
Elaine Fehseke Gray, Attorney, Fort Madison
O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa, Des Moines
Peggy Senzarino, Mason City Globe Gazette, Mason City
Amanda Lewis, KCCI-TV News, Des Moines                           
Zack Kucharski, Cedar Rapids Gazette, Cedar Rapids
Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal, Sioux City
Nancy Raffensperger Newhoff, Waterloo Courier, Waterloo
Kathy Richardson, Iowa Freedom of Information Council, Des Moines
Steve Davis, Court Liaison, Des Moines

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