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Cellphones, Laptops, and Other Electronics

  1. General Rule – Visitors may keep an electronic device (e.g., cell phone, laptop, iPhone, iPod, MP3 player, tablet, iPad, smart watch, etc.) in the courthouse and annex if the device does not have a camera (still or video) or is not capable of recording audio. All electronic devices with cameras or recording capabilities must be stored in lockers located at each of the public entrances of the courthouse and annex unless the device belongs to a visitor listed below.
  2. Visitors Permitted to Bring Electronic Devices Into the Courthouse and Annex – The following individuals are allowed to bring electronic devices with camera and recording capabilities into the courthouse and annex:
    • Members of the Bar – Attorneys who display a bar identification card or other proof of membership of the bar of the Court of Appeals, District Court, or D.C. Bar.
    • Jurors – Jurors who display a juror summons or juror pass issued by the Jury Office.
    • Members of the Media – Members of the media who are credentialed by either Court for a specific trial or proceeding or who are credentialed by another federal or D.C. government entity, including the U.S. Supreme Court, Congress, a federal agency, or the D.C. government.
    • Parole Commission Hearing Examiners – Individuals who display their credentials as Parole Commission hearing examiners are allowed to bring electronic devices used to record hearings.
    • Guests of Judges and Court Executives – Judges and court executives, or their designees, may authorize a visitor to enter with an electronic device.
  3. Use of Electronic Devices in Courtrooms
    • Court of Appeals – All electronic devices with cellular or WiFi capability must be turned off or put in airplane mode before entering a courtroom, and no transmissions are permitted from any courtroom in which a Court of Appeals proceeding is being held.
    • District and Bankruptcy Courts – Electronic devices may be used to transmit and receive data communications, such as email or text messages, and to access the Internet ONLY with the express prior approval of the presiding judge. Without such approval, all electronic devices with cellular or WiFi capability must be turned off or put in airplane mode before entering a district or bankruptcy courtroom.
  4. Cameras and Recording and Videotaping Devices – Use of electronic devices to take photographs or for audio or video recording or transmission is prohibited in all courtrooms subject to the Policy Guidelines for the Use of Cameras and Recording and Videotaping Devices in the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse and the William B. Bryant Annex (as amended March 3, 2008); the Media Policy of the U.S. Courts of the D.C. Circuit (December 2016); and Local Civil Rule 83.1 of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Effective: April 9, 2007
Amended: November 23, 2009
Amended: December 6, 2016