Support Grows For Courtroom Bans Of Mobile Devices

Lady Justice statue(Photo: Flickr/Manu_H)
Lady Justice statue(Photo: Flickr/Manu_H)

A national survey of judges, bailiffs and other court personnel shows growing support to ban mobile devices from courtrooms. The survey reflects a recognition of the impact of new media on the judicial process.

The survey by the National Center for State Courts shows increasing efforts to balance use of mobile devices with the need to protect courtroom integrity. Ohio Supreme Court spokesman Chris Davey says Ohio currently lacks a statewide policy on use of cellphones and other hand-held devices in the courtroom. But, he says there are documented cases of witness intimidation through use of mobile devices.

“Videotaping a witness on the stand clearly for the purpose of intimidating that witness. There have been instances of jurors inappropriately using a mobile device to access information outside of what’s being presented in the courtroom.”

Davey says judges and courts recognize the impact new media has on the judicial process. He says most of those surveyed favor strict limits on mobile devices.

“Many judges that we surveyed indicated that their preference would be an outright ban of mobile devices in the courtroom. In fact, some courts around the country have an outright ban in the courthouse itself,” says Davey.

Davey says more courts are adopting formal social media policies to limit potential abuse of courtroom proceedings.