Rule 53. Courtroom Photographing and Broadcasting Prohibited

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Except as otherwise provided by a statute or these rules, the court must not permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during judicial proceedings or the broadcasting of judicial proceedings from the courtroom.


(As amended Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002.)

Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1944

While the matter to which the rule refers has not been a problem in the Federal courts as it has been in some State tribunals, the rule was nevertheless included with a view to giving expression to a standard which should govern the conduct of judicial proceedings, Orfield, 22 Texas L.R. 194, 222–3; Robbins, 21 A.B.A.Jour. 301, 304. See, also, Report of the Special Committee on Cooperation between Press, Radio and Bar, as to Publicity Interfering with Fair Trial of Judicial and Quasi-Judicial Proceedings (1937), 62 A.B.A.Rep. 851, 862–865; (1932) 18 A.B.A.Jour. 762; (1926) 12 Id. 488; (1925) 11 Id. 64.

Committee Notes on Rules—2002 Amendment

The language of Rule 53 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Criminal Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only, except as noted below.

Although the word “radio” has been deleted from the rule, the Committee does not believe that the amendment is a substantive change but rather one that accords with judicial interpretation applying the current rule to other forms of broadcasting and functionally equivalent means. See, e.g., United States v. Hastings, 695 F.2d 1278, 1279, n. 5 (11th Cir. 1983) (television proceedings prohibited); United States v. McVeigh, 931 F. Supp. 753 (D. Colo. 1996) (release of tape recordings of proceedings prohibited). Given modern technology capabilities, the Committee believed that a more generalized reference to “broadcasting” is appropriate.

Also, although the revised rule does not explicitly recognize exceptions within the rules themselves, the restyled rule recognizes that other rules might permit, for example, video teleconferencing, which clearly involves “broadcasting” of the proceedings, even if only for limited purposes.