Cell Phones Banned from Circuit Court
(Bel Air, MD – July 14, 2008) Effective August 1, 2008 Administrative Judge William Carr issued an amended order regarding court security and protocol measures. It outlined several major changes with regards to communication devices. The administrative order expands the previous order and includes all communication devices. In the past, cell phones with a camera were banned from circuit court; now it is all communication devices. The reason for this updated order regarding security and protocol measures is to eliminate disruption in court proceedings. The specifics are as follows:
- With the exception of courthouse staff and attorneys having business with the Court, cellular telephones, pagers, PDAs and other wireless communication devices and laptop computers are NOT allowed in the courthouse. Individuals possessing these items will be required to leave the courthouse and return without these devices.
- Laptop computers shall only be used within a courtroom in the courthouse with prior approval of the presiding judge. Attorneys must turn off any cellular telephones, pagers and other wireless communications devices while in court chambers and courtrooms.
- No electronic games, radio, audio equipment, or similar devices designed to receive or transmit commercial signals are allowed within the courthouse.
- Photographic equipment, including cellular phones and personal computers designed to take photos, tape recorder and other audio or video recording devices are NOT permitted with the courthouse except at provided in Maryland Rule 16-109.
In addition to the above listed guidelines, law enforcement and correctional officers having official business with the courts are also exempt. “Our goal is to make sure as many of Harford County’s citizens learn about the changes made in the communications (cell phone) policy affecting Circuit Court,” stated Sergeant Paul Cole of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office Court Services Division. “Too often, we have to send people doing business with the court back to their cars to store away their cell phones. We hope to minimize the number of times this has to happen.”