Judge bars filming of juveniles outside of courthouse
IDAHO–A 5th District judge in Twin Falls issued an order in mid- November that would amend local court rules by barring the photographing of juvenile defendants on the way to or from the courthouse.
An incident involving reporters from the Times-News of Twin Falls reportedly prompted Judge J. William Hart to issue the order to protect the identity of juveniles who had not been charged as adults.
Times-News Managing Editor Clark Wallworth said that when a 16- year-old boy and his adult brother were brought into Judge Charles Brumbach’s courtroom in connection with a non-fatal shooting, a reporter from the newspaper attempted to photograph him in the hallway, but someone blocked the camera. The reporter’s film was also confiscated by court authorities.
Later a photographer tried to take a picture of the boy outside of the courthouse, but a court bailiff threatened to have him arrested.
The court order states, “No filming or pictures of a juvenile defendant shall be permitted inside the courthouse or as the juvenile is being walked from the detention center to the courthouse.”
The Times-News questioned whether Hart can prohibit reporters from photographing juveniles on courthouse grounds as part of his authority to regulate cameras in the courtroom. A lawyer for the newspaper said the order was too broad in scope.
Wallworth said the paper is reviewing the order. “The incident erupted because we were not aware of a policy against photographing juveniles outside the courthouse.” He added, “Judges were granted full discretion in administering rules governing the filming of juveniles when Idaho began its one-year experimental study with cameras in the court, but people have still been trying to figure out what the limits are.”
Wallworth also noted that he intends to have a “cooperative and friendly” meeting with Judge Hart to discuss the matter further. “Hart wants to protect the privacy of juveniles and we want to protect our right to gather and report the news,” Wallworth said.
Twin Falls Court Administrator Linda Wright said, “The whole thing has been blown out of proportion. The judge specified in his order a distance of 15 to 20 feet from the courthouse.” Public sidewalks and the street are not included, she said.
Wright said that Judge Hart was planning to have a news conference to address media concerns stemming from the order, and is in the process or revising the order to clarify its meaning. (Amended Administrative Order 95-03, Media Counsel: Ron Bush, Pocatello)