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Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

RULE 605

(a) Definitions.

(1) "Media" means any recognized news-gathering or news-reporting agency and the individual persons involved, and includes newspapers, radio, television, radio and television networks, news services, magazines, trade papers, in-house publications, professional journals, or other news-reporting or news-gathering agency whose function is to inform the public or some segment thereof.

(2) "Presiding judge" means the judge, justice, master or other judicial officer who is scheduled to preside or is presiding over the proceeding. Presiding judge in the appellate court shall refer to the Chief Justice or Chief Judge of the court, or the senior justice or judge if the Chief Justice or Chief Judge is not participating in the proceeding.

(3) "Proceeding" means any trial, hearing, motion, argument or other matter held in open court which the public is entitled to attend.

(b) General Rule. Except as provided by (c) through (f) below, the broadcasting, televising, recording, or taking photographs in the courtroom and areas immediately adjacent thereto during sessions of court or recesses between sessions is prohibited.

(c) Use for Judicial Administration. A presiding judge may authorize the use of electronic or photographic means for the presentation of evidence, for the perpetuation of a record, or for other purposes of judicial administration.

(d) Ceremonial Proceedings. A presiding judge may authorize the broadcasting, televising, recording, or photographing of investitive or ceremonial proceedings.

(e) Educational Use. A presiding judge may authorize the photographic or electronic recording and reproduction of appropriate court proceedings under the following conditions:

(1) the means of recording will not distract participants or impair the dignity of the proceedings;

(2) the parties have consented, and the consent to being depicted or recorded has been obtained from each witness appearing in the recording and reproduction;

(3) the reproduction will not be exhibited until after the proceeding has been concluded and all direct appeals have been exhausted; and

(4) the reproduction will be exhibited only for instructional purposes in educational institutions.

(f) Media Coverage.

(1) General Provisions.

(i) Subject to the requirements of this Rule, representatives of the media may use video, still cameras or recorders to cover proceedings in the courts of this State.

(ii) Media representatives must give reasonable notice to the presiding judge of a request to cover a proceeding. If written notice is required by the presiding judge, Form 1 should be used. In the absence of reasonable notice, the presiding judge may refuse to permit media coverage, after giving due regard for the public educational benefits flowing from the photographing and recording of court proceedings.

(iii) The presiding judge may refuse, limit, or terminate media coverage of an entire case, portions thereof, or testimony of particular witnesses as may be required in the interests of justice.

(iv) No direct public expense is to be incurred for equipment, wiring, or personnel needed to provide media coverage.

(v) Nothing in this Rule shall prevent a judge from placing additional reasonable restrictions, or prohibiting altogether, photographing, recording, or broadcasting in court facilities other than the courtroom.

(2) Limitations.

(i) Coverage of proceedings which are otherwise closed to the public is prohibited.

(ii) There shall be no audio pickup or broadcast of conferences which occur in a court facility between attorneys and their clients, between co-counsel of a client, between adverse counsel or between counsel and the presiding judge.

(iii) The members of the jury may not be photographed except when they happen to be in the background of other subjects being photographed. Camera and audio coverage of prospective jurors during selection is prohibited.

(3) Equipment and Personnel.

(i) No more than two television cameras, operated by no more than one camera person each, shall be permitted in any proceeding.

(ii) No more than one radio recorder, operated by no more than one person, shall be permitted in any proceeding.

(iii) No more than two still photographers, utilizing no more than two cameras and related equipment each, shall be permitted in any proceeding.

(iv) If two or more media representatives have given notice under section (f)(1)(ii) above, the presiding judge shall notify the applicants that no coverage may begin until all the representatives have agreed upon a pooling arrangement for their respective news media. Such pooling arrangements shall include the designation of pool operators, procedures for cost sharing, access to and dissemination of material, and selection of a pool representative if appropriate. The presiding judge may not be called upon to mediate or resolve any dispute as to these pooling arrangements.

(v) Equipment or clothing shall not bear the insignia or marking of any media agency. Media personnel operating cameras shall wear appropriate business attire.

(vi) Reporters, in the interest of accuracy, may use hand-held micro-cassette tape recorders that are no more sensitive than the human ear, provided they are not used in violation of section (f)(2)(ii).

(4) Sound and Light Criteria.

(i) Equipment shall not produce distracting sound or light. Signal lights or devices to show when equipment is operating shall not be visible. Moving lights, flash attachments, or sudden light changes shall not be used.

(ii) Except as otherwise approved by the presiding judge, existing courtroom sound and light systems shall be used without modification. Audio pickup for all purposes shall be accomplished from existing audio systems present in the court facility or from a television camera's built-in microphone. If no technically suitable audio system exists in the court facility, microphones and related wiring essential for media purposes shall be unobtrusive and shall be located in places designated in advance of any proceeding by the presiding judge.

(iii) Court proceedings shall not be interrupted by reporter or technician because of a technical or equipment problem. If any problem occurs, that piece of equipment shall be turned off while the proceeding is in session. No attempt shall be made to correct the technical or equipment problem until the proceeding is in recess or has concluded.

(5) Location of Equipment and Personnel.

(i) The presiding judge shall designate the location in the courtroom for media equipment and operators.

(ii) During proceedings, operating personnel shall not move about nor shall there be placement or removal of equipment.

(6) Compliance. Any media representative who fails to comply with this Rule shall be subject to an appropriate sanction as determined by the presiding judge.

(7) Review. It is not intended that a grant or denial of media coverage be subject to appellate review insofar as it pertains to and arises under this Rule, except as otherwise provided by law.

(8) Impermissible Use of Media Material. None of the video, photographs or recordings of proceedings under subsection (f) of this Rule shall be admissible as evidence in the proceeding out of which it arose, any proceedings subsequent and collateral thereto, or upon any retrial or appeal of such proceeding.