Pennsylvania

D. Interviewing judges

Overview

Pennsylvania

The Code of Judicial Conduct states “a judge should abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in any court….” This subsection does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining, for public information, the procedures of the court. Pa. Code Jud. Conduct Canon 3(a)(6)

C. Gag orders on participants

Overview

Pennsylvania

Gag Orders on Attorneys: Gag orders on attorneys are upheld in Pennsylvania, when the order is necessary  to prevent material prejudice to an adjudicatory proceeding or in order to prevent interference with a defendant’s right to a fair trial. The courts will also consider whether the gag order actually restricts media coverage of the proceedings, prevents the media from questioning trial participants or restricts the trial participants from speaking with the media. Pennsylvania courts have consistently allowed restrictions on public comment by attorneys when such comments will affect the right to a fair trial or such restrictions are consistent with the Professional Rule of Conduct which seeks to ensure an individual’s right to a fair trial. Pennsylvania v. Lambert, 723 A.2d 684 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1998).

B. Gag orders on the press

Overview

Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, as a general rule, the press is free to publish that which transpires during a public hearing and cannot be subjected to prior restraint with respect thereto. Absent a state interest of the highest order, courts may not prevent or punish the publication of truthful information of public significance which has been lawfully obtained. Even short-lived gag orders are reviewed cautiously out of concern that they may cause irreparable injury to First Amendment interests as long as they remain in effect.      

A. Media standing to challenge third-party gag orders

Overview

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania law allows a third party to intervene in a proceeding if “the determination of such action may affect any legally enforceable interest of such person whether or not he may be bound by a judgment in the action.” Pa. R. Civ. P. 2327(4). The process for intervening is outlined in Pa. R. Civ. P. 2328. One desiring to intervene in a proceeding should petition the trial court to intervene for the purpose of challenging the legality of a gag order. See Capital Cities Media, Inc. v. Toole, 483 A.2d 1339 (1984).  An application for leave to intervene is to be made by a petition that should be in the form of a plaintiff’s initial pleading in a civil action and verified as such. Pa. R. Civ. P. 2328.  The pleading should set forth the ground on which intervention is sought and a statement of the relief or defense the petitioner seeks to demand or assert.

F. Liveblogging and Twittering

Overview

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Rules prohibit the technology necessary to conduct liveblogging and twittering in criminal proceedings. There is no equivalent rule for civil proceedings.

Rule 112 of Pennsylvania’s Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibits the transmission of communications by telephone, radio, television or advanced communication technology from the hearing room or the court or its environs during the process of or in connection with any criminal judicial proceeding. These prohibitions apply regardless of whether court is actually in session. The only exceptions are for recordings made by the official court stenographer, recordings made as an aid to the preparation of the written record, or for naturalization ceremonies or the swearing in of public officials. However, even these recordings should not be publicly displayed or disseminated. Pa. R. Crim. P. 112 (emphasis added)

E. Webcasting

Overview

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Rules prohibit the technology necessary to conduct webcasting of criminal proceedings. There is no equivalent rule for civil proceedings.

Rule 112 of Pennsylvania’s Rules of Criminal Procedure prohibits the transmission of communications by telephone, radio, television or advanced communication technology from the hearing room or the court or its environs during the process of or in connection with any criminal judicial proceeding. These prohibitions apply regardless of whether court is actually in session. The only exceptions are for recordings made by the official court stenographer, recordings made as an aid to the preparation of the written record, or for naturalization ceremonies or the swearing in of public officials. However, even these recordings should not be publicly displayed or disseminated. Pa. R. Crim. P. 112 (emphasis added).

D. Still cameras

Overview

Pennsylvania

Coverage of criminal proceedings is explicitly prohibited by Rule 112 of the Criminal Rules of Procedure. Rule 223 of the Civil Rules of Procedure and Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct  permit judges discretion to authorize media coverage of civil non-jury proceedings. However support, custody and divorce proceedings are excluded.  Local court rules should also be considered.

Under certain conditions and subject to certain exceptions, Chapter 67 of title 210 of the Pennsylvania Code allows recording by the Pennsylvania Cable Network of en banc proceedings before the Commonwealth Court.

B. Circumstances where cameras are permitted

Overview

Pennsylvania

Coverage of criminal proceedings is explicitly prohibited by Rule 112 of the Criminal Rules of Procedure. Rule 223 of the Civil Rules of Procedure and Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct  permit judges discretion to authorize media coverage of civil non-jury proceedings. However support, custody and divorce proceedings are excluded.  Local court rules should also be considered.

Under certain conditions and subject to certain exceptions, Chapter 67 of title 210 of the Pennsylvania Code allows recording by the Pennsylvania Cable Network of en banc proceedings before the Commonwealth Court.

A. Authorization

Overview

Pennsylvania

Coverage of criminal proceedings is explicitly prohibited by Rule 112 of the Criminal Rules of Procedure. Rule 223 of the Civil Rules of Procedure and Canon 3 of the Code of Judicial Conduct  permit judges discretion to authorize media coverage of civil non-jury proceedings. However support, custody and divorce proceedings are excluded.  Local court rules should also be considered for nonjury civil proceedings.

Under certain conditions and subject to certain exceptions, Chapter 67 of title 210 of the Pennsylvania Code allows recording by the Pennsylvania Cable Network of en banc proceedings before the Commonwealth Court.

XI. Cameras and other technology in the courtroom

Overview

Pennsylvania

In Commonwealth v. Davis, 635 A.2d 1062, 1065 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1993), the Pennsylvania Superior Court held that a trial court’s order, pursuant to a local rule, prohibiting the media from photographing or videotaping a jury view of the crime scene was a permissible “time, manner, place” restriction and did not violate the First Amendment inasmuch as the press and public were fully able to witness the jury view.