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San Diego Judge Proposes New Rules For Cameras In Courtroom

A San Diego Superior Court judge has proposed new rules for use of media cameras in his courtroom.

The proposed rules follow Judge David M. Szumowksi's complaint about a KFMB-TV news story that included video photography in his court. These are the proposed rules that only apply to Judge Szumowski's felony arraignment department:

1) One print camera and one video camera will be allowed in the Department 12 courtroom to cover arraignment proceedings.

2) A recess will be called before a newsworthy arraignment to allow the cameras to set up in the courtroom.

3) Whenever possible, the media request will be discussed in open court. However, attorneys will be allowed to meet with me (Judge Szumowski) at sidebar or in chambers to discuss any confidential information which may affect the ruling.

4) No electronic recording or photography is allowed until the media request has been granted. Before such a ruling, the video camera must be directed toward the stained-glass box behind the bench.

5) For security purposes, the media will ensure the hallway "pool box" is utilized by reporters and photographers only. The monitor should be turned away from the view of the general public.

6) There will be no candid pictures or footage taken of court staff outside of the arraignment proceeding. All footage must be obtained after an approved camera request ruling and during the arraignment. Once the camera request has been ruled upon, the defendant will be brought before the court.

The judge said if an individual media outlet violates the procedures or a ruling on a media request, a hearing will be conducted and the appropriate sanctions imposed based on the circumstances presented.

Judge Szumowski said the rules will be in effect when he is presiding over the felony arraignment department. Other judicial officers covering Department 12 may have different requirements.

Judge Szumowski may modify the rules at his discretion.

Karen Dalton with the San Diego Superior Court says the new procedures will likely go into effect next week.

She says Judge Szumowski is waiting to hear from media outlets before implementing the rules.

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