Delaware Courts to Test Allowing Public to Bring Cell Phones – Town Square Delaware LIVE


Signs in some Delaware courts today detail a trial program allowing people to bring cellphones into the building.

Courts in Delaware on Monday began testing the effect of allowing the public to bring cellphones into some courts in the three counties, after banning electronic devices since 2005.

Those who attend Family Court facilities in Dover and Georgetown, Justice of the Peace 11 in New Castle County and Justice of the Peace 3 and 17 in Georgetown.

If the pilot program goes well, it could be expanded to other courthouses, said Courts spokesman Sean O’Sullivan.

As part of the program, members of the public will not be allowed to take photos or record audio or video in courthouses, and any phones brought into a courtroom must be turned off or reduced in silence.

Those who bring phones will be allowed to photograph or scan court documents or non-confidential records in the clerks’ offices.

There is no set date on how long the pilot will last, O’Sullivan said.

None of these courts have jury trials, so the program will not apply to people called to serve on jurors, but if successful, it could be extended to them, he said.

The change follows a year-long undergraduate by a Judiciary Committee led by Chief Justice Collins J. Seitz Jr. and Chief Family Court Judge Michael K. Newell that reviewed the police because phones and electronic devices are an essential tool of daily life for humans. .

The committee was formed in part because allowing cellphones and tablet computers in state courthouses “would improve access to justice for those who depend on it for work and family matters and for unrepresented litigants”.

“Courts must strike a delicate balance between the needs of security and decorum, and access to justice,” Chief Justice Newell said in the press release. “And with the increased reliance on cellphones in our daily lives, the time seemed right to revisit our longstanding policy on cellphones.

“We’re optimistic that this new pilot program to allow the public to bring in cellphones – with
appropriate boundaries – will benefit both the public and the courts by making a trip to the courthouse less onerous while maintaining a level of security.

Under the pilot program, if a judicial officer feels there is cause for concern or a need to maintain security or decorum, they may order that a telephone or personal electronic device be Temporarily stored in a tear-proof locking pouch. The pouch will prevent use of the device until the end of the proceedings, at which time a court employee will unlock the pouch.

Failure to follow court rules or instructions from court officials may result in confiscation of the device for the duration of a visit to the courthouse.

Program rules may be adjusted as the pilot program progresses.

The results of the pilot program will help the committee make recommendations on whether to expand it to other court facilities in the state.

Read the committee’s full report here.


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