There are specific rules governing the possession and use of recording and transmitting devices (defined broadly to include cell phones, tablets, and laptops) in courthouses and courtrooms. 

To record or transmit judicial proceedings, media must register in advance of the hearing.   

Participants and observers can use devices in limited ways in a courtroom.

Rules on Possession and Use of Recording and Transmitting Devices in Superior Court

Effective September 3, 2019, the following applies.

In a Courthouse, any person

  • Any person may possess a device and use it nondisruptively
  • Any nonmedia person may not, outside a courtroom, use devices to record or transmit images or sound of another person without express consent
  • Registered media may orally and visually record and transmit but may not (1) use devices to communicate with a sequestered witness or to record or transmit images or sound of the sequestered witness, (2) record or transmit images or sound of parties and witnesses in confidential proceedings in areas immediately adjacent to the courtroom, (3) record or transmit the jury in areas immediately adjacent to the courtroom, and (4) use devices to record audio or video of conferences between attorney and client (only still images).

In a Courtroom (for public proceedings in civil division, V.R.C.P. 79.2, environmental division, V.R.E.C.P. 3, family division, V.R.F.P. 4.0(a)(2), criminal division, V.R.Cr.P. 53, and probate division, V.R.P.P. 79.2)

Registered Media

  • May use devices to orally and visually record public proceedings
  • May use devices to transmit (live stream) public proceedings
  • Must comply with limits on location and pooling for that courtroom

Participants

  • May use devices to audio record proceedings
  • May not use devices to video record or transmit

Registered Media and Participants

  • May not use devices to communicate orally
  • May not operate devices in a manner that emits a distracting sound
  • May not use devices to record audio of bench conferences, conferences between co-counsel, or activity during a recess
  • May not use devices to record audio or video of conferences between attorney and client (only still images)
  • May not use devices to record or transmit activities or images of jurors, except the court may allow images that include the jury on terms that will protect the identity of jurors

Nonparticipants

  • May not use devices to communicate orally or to record or transmit audio or video
  • May not operate devices in a manner that emits a distracting sound
  • May not use devices at all during evidentiary proceedings or when jury is present

Jurors

  • May not use devices during jury selection or trial
  • May not possess devices while deliberating

Court’s Discretion

  • For all or part of a proceeding, the court can permit, prohibit, terminate, limit, or postpone recording or transmitting based on a list of factors
  • If the court waives limits of the rules, the court can include restrictions on placement and operation

 

Rules on Possession and Use of Recording and Transmitting Devices in Supreme Court

Effective September 4, 2019, the following applies.

In a Supreme Court courthouse, any person

  • May possess devices
  • May use devices nondisruptively

In a Supreme Court courtroom

Registered Media

  • May use devices to orally and visually record public proceedings
  • May use devices to transmit (live stream) public proceedings
  • Must comply with limits on location and pooling

Participants

  • May use devices to audio and video record and transmit proceedings

Nonparticipants

  • May not record or transmit from the galley of the courtroom
  • May use devices to orally or visually record, but must comply with limits on location and pooling

Registered Media, Participants, and Nonparticipants

  • May not use devices to communicate orally
  • May not operate devices in a manner that emits a distracting sound
  • May not use devices to record or transmit during a recess or between hearings
  • May not use devices to record audio or video of conferences between attorney and client (only still images)

Court’s Discretion

  • For all or part of a proceeding, the court can permit, prohibit, terminate, limit, or postpone recording or transmitting based on a list of factors

 

Media Registration

To record or transmit judicial proceedings, media must register. To register:

There are four different forms. See below for links to the forms and information about the application process.

  1. The application for permanent registration allows a media organization or individual to obtain a permanent registration certificate.
  2. The application for one-time registration allows media individuals without a permanent registration to obtain permission to record or transmit for a particular day or hearing.
  3. The one-time authorization allows an individual, who belongs to a media organization with a permanent registration certificate, to obtain permission to record or transmit for a particular day or hearing.
  4. The amendment form allows a media organization or individual to amend an existing permanent registration certificate.

 

Form Purpose: Allows media organizations and individuals to obtain a permanent registration certificate
Application Process: Email to jud.mediaregistration@vermont.gov for decision by the Court Administrator
Review Process: Review by the Supreme Court

 

Form Purpose: Allows media individuals without a permanent registration certificate to obtain permission to record or transmit court proceedings for a single day or proceeding
Application Process: Submit to court staff for decision by
  • Presiding Judge of the unit (superior court)
  • Chief Justice (Supreme Court)
Review Process: Review by
  • Chief Superior Judge (superior court)
  • Supreme Court (Supreme Court)

 

Form Purpose: Allows an individual to receive one-time authorization to represent a media organization that holds a permanent registration certificate
Application Process: Submit to court staff for decision by
  • the superior court clerk of the unit (superior court)
  • Deputy Clerk of the Supreme Court (Supreme Court)
Review Process: Review by
  • Presiding judge (superior court)
  • Supreme Court (Supreme Court)

 

Form Purpose: Allows media individuals/organizations to amend an existing permanent registration certificate
Application Process: Email to jud.mediaregistration@vermont.gov for decision by the Court Administrator
Review Process: n/a
List of Registered Media

Media that have registered and are authorized to record or transmit are included in this list. This list will be available after September 3, 2019.

Policies for Courtrooms

Provisional media policies for individual Vermont courtrooms are now available below. The Judiciary is seeking feedback from members of the media before finalizing these provisional policies. Please review these policies and submit your feedback using the Vermont Courtroom Policies Feedback form.

Court Administrator’s Office staff will be scheduling in-person site visits to courtrooms requested to be visited by members of the media. The purpose of these site visits will be to enable members of the media to review courtroom-specific features, such as the assigned location for recording devices, for the purpose of offering feedback. Please complete the “Request a Site Visit” section of the feedback form to indicate which courtroom(s), if any, you would like to visit.

Please submit your request to visit a courtroom(s) by Friday, September 20, 2019. Following that date, Court Administrator’s Office staff will schedule site visits to all courtrooms members of the media have indicated an interest in visiting. Members of the media will be notified of the date, time, and location of all site visits. Only one visit per site will be scheduled. The Judiciary intends to finalize all provisional policies within two weeks of the last site visit.