Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Phones allowed in the 2d District Courtroom, but not for the Supremes

As you'll recall, on January 1, the 2d District revised its courtroom policies to allow electronic devices -- tablets, laptops, cell phones, etc.-- into the courtroom - but they (1) may only be used for court business (i.e., related to the case you're there to argue), so no emailing or web surfing; and (2) must be powered off or silenced (as in airplane mode). This is a great convenience for security personnel and those entering the courtroom (lawyers, clients, the public), because they needn't check in devices, deal with a claim check card, and then go through the hassles of retrieving the devices when leaving the courtroom.

But note: When the Supreme Court uses the courtroom, such as next week, protocol reverts to the old way: No mobile devices allowed in the courtroom.

As for how the new system is working, there have been a handful of courtroom incidents since January involving phones. I witnessed one, where a phone was vibrating in the purse of a woman sitting in the public gallery. The CHP officer escorted her from the courtroom and (I learned later) took down her information, as the officer had warned he would do before the justices took the bench. Apparently this has happened before, and presumably the court is keeping records to see if the public can be responsible enough to abide by the new policy. To date, I'm not aware of anyone actually being ticketed or any phones being confiscated. Let's not abuse this privilege: Please silence your devices in the courtroom!