News

Court guard oversteps boundaries

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February 15, 2018

A RIVERINE Herald journalist was confronted by a security officer at the Echuca Magistrates Court on Tuesday because she was using her phone in a professional capacity in court.

A RIVERINE Herald journalist was confronted by a security officer at the Echuca Magistrates Court on Tuesday because she was using her phone in a professional capacity in court.

The guard approached the reporter and demanded she turn her phone off, saying it was against policy for her to use it in court.

The guard later approached the reporter outside the courtroom and threatened to wipe her phone clean, but said because she “was who she was”, he would let her off.

He added that she was “lucky he wasn’t going to (wipe her phone)”.

His threats were contrary to court policy, which states journalists can use electronic devices including phones, laptops and tablets for taking notes and filing stories but cannot use them if they disrupt court in any way.

“Journalists are not allowed to take photos or to make audio or video recordings of court proceedings without the permission of the presiding magistrate,” the policy states.

“Mobile phones are not to be used to make or receive phone calls while in a courtroom.

“No electronic device is to be used for instantaneous publication while in the courtroom, such as live blogging or social media posts.

“Failing to comply with these guidelines may result in expulsion from the courtroom and confiscation of the offending electronic device.”

The reporter was complying with all these stipulations.

Later questioned by the reporter, he said he wasn’t aware she was a journalist, with both he and a colleague indicating they should have been informed she was from the media. There is no requirement for that to happen either.

When shown court policy for the use of electronic devices by the media in court, he admitted he hadn’t seen it before.

He added it was his understanding that no-one was allowed to leave their phone on in court.

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