Sample court memo on media coverage of high profile case (State v. Kip Kinkel)

Here is a sample set of media guidelines for a high-profile criminal case where a judge expects a crush of reporters and cameras.

125 East 8th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401

To: All interested media
From: Kip Leonard, Presiding Lane County Circuit Judge
September 14, 1999 Re: St. v. Kinkel

Trial of St. v. Kinkel will begin Monday, September 27, 1999.
The trial is anticipated to last a month or more. Except for initial
juror orientation, proceedings will be held in circuit courtroom 303
with the Honorable Jack Mattison presiding. Tuesday through Friday trial
will be held from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and from 1:30 to 5:00 p.m.. It
is customary to have at least one recess in both the morning and
afternoon sessions. Trial is also likely to be held on Monday
afternoons. Juror orientation on September 27th will be held in the
Wheeler Pavilion at the Lane County Fairgrounds.

The court has three primary considerations which will affect the
conduct of the trial and the media’s opportunity to observe and report
the proceedings: 1. Courthouse and courtroom security; 2. Courtroom
decorum; 3. Courthouse functions and other proceedings during the course
of the trial.

Security for the courthouse and the trial is the joint
responsibility of the court and the Lane County Sheriff’s Office. The
foundation for the public’s access to the trial is the security of the
building and the people in it. There is a monitored security entrance to
the courthouse through which all people entering the building must pass.
During the trial there will also be a monitored security entrance at the
door to courtroom 303. During the course of the trial there are also
thousands of other scheduled events in the Lane Courthouse and there are
countless people who need access to the various services provided in the
building. The following rules will be enforced:

1. No bags, containers, packages or similar objects will be
permitted in the courtroom. This includes common items such as purses
and backpacks. Also, no weapons of any type will be allowed in the room,
including such things as pocket knifes or nail clippers. There will be
no storage facilities for these items in the courthouse. Working members
of the press may have tools of their trade.

2. There shall be no electronic recording devices permitted in
the courtroom. Laptop computers capable of sound recording must not be
used to record.

3. Cell phones and pagers must not make any audible sound in the
courtroom. There shall be no use of phones within the courtroom.

4. Spectators allowed in the courtroom must be in their seats
before court is commenced. Readmission to the courtroom will be allowed
only at breaks.

5. Visible or audible reactions to courtroom proceedings will
not be allowed.

6. There is a written order in place prohibiting still and video
or motion picture camera photography and recording of trial proceedings.

A copy of that order is included with this material.

7. Spectators will not be allowed to observe the trial from
outside of the courtroom. The media’s access to the trial and the
building will be subject to the court’s order of September 14, 1999
and the attached Media Guidelines.

The court will not issue press statements or hold briefings at
any time regarding the trial. Court staff will not answer questions
concerning the trial or proceedings. A dedicated phone line will provide
essential information concerning the trial. The number is (541)
682-2330. A copy of the court’s file is available for press and public
viewing at the File Center on the second floor of the courthouse.
Included with these materials is a copy of the “Oregon State
Bar ­ Press ­ Broadcasters Joint Statement of Principles” and a
copy of the “Guidelines for Disclosure and Reporting of Information on
Criminal Proceedings”, which are commonly referred to as the
“Bar/Press Guidelines.” The court and its employees are ethically
bound to follow these. The court expects all representatives of Oregon
media who recognize these principles to adhere to them. The court also
expects all other media representatives to respect the guidelines’
language and intent.

Media Guidelines
Order (9/14/99)
Order Regarding Public Access Coverage
General Order
OSB/Press Joint Statement of Principles
Guidelines for Disclosure

State vs. Kipland Philip Kinkel
September 14, 1999

General Conduct:
It is understood there shall be no camera or recording device of
any kind used in the courtroom. It is understood there shall be no
attempt whatsoever to contact any juror in the case, subject to
contempt-of-court penalties, while the trial is in progress.
Seating for media in the courtroom:

The following media shall have a guaranteed seat for every day
of the trial:

The Register-Guard
The Oregonian
The Associated Press
The Springfield News
KUGN radio (CBS)
KLCC radio (NPR)
KPNW radio (ABC)

A pool sketch artist who will be retained by the consortium and
whose work will be available through the consortium’s networks and

The remaining two seats, and any unclaimed seats, will be
available daily through a lottery to all other media interested in
attending the trial that day. (The lottery process is described below.)

Media with guaranteed seating must comply with the following
1) Coverage of all events in the courtroom during the trial
shall be pooled to networks and affiliates with the goal of providing
this information as quickly as possible to as many media outlets as
possible. Media without guaranteed seating must make their own
arrangements through their networks and/or local affiliates to obtain
trial coverage.
1) Media with guaranteed courtroom seating shall conform with
all directions of the court — particularly the limitation on entering
and leaving the courtroom while trial is in session.
2) Any cell phone, pager or laptop computer taken into the
courtroom must be deactivated or operated in a fashion to prevent any
distracting noise.
All media must comply with the following conditions:
3) Photography on the third floor of the courthouse shall be
done by a pool consisting of one video and one still photographer. Video
photographers for the third-floor pool shall be provided by KVAL-TV,
KMTR-TV, and KEZI-TV. Bill Goetz of KEZI-TV (485-5611, ext. 4008) will
serve as video coordinator. The Register-Guard, The Associated Press,
and The Oregonian will collaborate for staffing the still photography
position. Rob Romig of The Register-Guard (338-2583) will serve as still
photography coordinator. All pool photographers shall comply with court
rules which confine photographers to an area marked by a yellow line on
the floor and which forbid use of flash and artificial light.
4) No taped interviews shall be conducted in the hallways and
corridors on the third floor of the courthouse. No location within the
courthouse is available for taping or broadcasting of news reports.
5) Because of space limitations, there will not be a room or
area available for the media to store equipment or conduct business.
6) An interview area will be established on the plaza outside
the courthouse for interviews with victims, witnesses and others during
the course of the trial. News media shall confine their interviews to
the plaza area, allowing those victims and witnesses who do not wish to
be interviewed, the freedom to enter and leave the courthouse without
7) Photographers will not have access to photograph the
defendant upon arrival or departure from the courthouse or jail.
8) All media will be subject to the same security measures
required of the public when entering the secured area of the courthouse.

Lottery procedure:
9) All media with guaranteed seating in the courtroom must claim
credentials daily by reporting to a designated place at least
one-half hour before the scheduled start of the trial. All credentials
unclaimed thirty minutes before the start of the trial shall be placed
in the daily lottery. A lottery thirty minutes before the start of trial
shall determine which media shall have unclaimed credentials for the
day. Media representatives without guaranteed seating must apply daily
for the lottery and must be present for the lottery drawing in order to
claim credentials drawn in the lottery.
10) The 8:30 a.m. daily deadline for media with guaranteed
courtroom seating to claim their credentials is absolute. No exceptions
will be made.
11) Buying and selling of credentials for media courtroom
seating is not permitted and will result in forfeiture of the right to
participate in the lottery. Media with guaranteed daily trial seating
may assign the seat to any staff member or affiliate of the media with
guaranteed daily trial seating.
12) To be eligible for the media lottery, a reporter must be
employed by a newspaper or magazine with paid circulation or must work
for a broadcasting entity licensed by the FCC.

Violators will be reported to Presiding Judge Kip Leonard
(682-4254) or Court Administrator David Factor (682-4166). Violation of
court rules or orders will result in loss of privileges and may be
subject to punishment for contempt of court.

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