History Of The Rule In Michigan Courts
Michigan courthouses have historically only allowed attorneys and court personnel to take their cell phones, tablets etc. inside courthouses past the metal detectors. All other people would not be allowed to bring phones inside. Some courts have small lockers that you can use to lock up your phones, while other courts simply tell you to leave your phone in the car. Leaving your phone in the car is a problem if you don’t have a car or didn’t drive to court. People who take public transportation, bike, or uber to court are often left wondering where they can put their phone since they aren’t allowed to take them inside. Some people even resort to hiding their devices in bushes outside of courthouses. That all changed on January 8th of this year when the Michigan Supreme Court ruled to allow cell phones, laptops, and other communication devices inside Michigan courthouses.
How We Got Here
The Michigan Supreme Court’s newly amended Michigan court rule (MCR 8.115) now allows cell phones, tablets, laptops, and any other similar items inside Michigan courthouses as of May 1st, 2020. This amended rule now allows people the ability to research, communicate, and take notes electronically. This type of ability was only previously reserved for attorneys and others permitted by the court. The Michigan Supreme Court found those who had lower incomes and those representing themselves were at a severe disadvantage in their cases because of the old rule. Not being able to connect to the internet, take notes, or photos tilted the scales of justice against these people in Michigan courtrooms.
This policy aims to modernize the court while leveling the playing field some for people representing themselves. This policy is also eco-friendly as it will also save on paper and printing as people will be allowed to photograph court documents with their phones as stated above from the clerk’s office. Other states have already adopted similar measures and have seen improvements in the public’s access to information without major disruptions due to the use of cell phones and other devices.
The New Changes
You may now use your cell phone or other device to send and receive text messages, take notes, and access email and the internet while inside courthouses and courtrooms. You are now able to also take photos of court documents within the court clerk’s office so long as you don’t leave any mark or impression on the original document. This is a big departure from how things were done in the past where members of the public would have to pay as much as $1 per page for copies.
The new rule also comes with important restrictions and limits. Devices must all be silenced upon entering a courtroom and calls cannot be made to make or receive calls while court is in session. People are not allowed to communicate with a courtroom participant and cannot photograph jurors. Court proceedings are not allowed to be recorded without prior approval by the judge. You may also not photograph anyone in court without their consent. If a judge feels that anyone is behaving disruptively in using their device, they have the authority to sanction them and the use of their devices. A judge can still hold someone in contempt if they violate a court rule or attempt to interfere with the court’s ability to operate.
Any Further Questions?
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime or are being investigated for one, then it is important to speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Grabel & Associates, our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience in successfully defending criminal cases all over the state of Michigan. This experience extends not only to adult cases, but also to juvenile charges. We are not a general practice firm. We are a team of criminal defense attorneys; it’s all we do. We offer a FREE consultation to anyone with questions relating to a possible or existing criminal charge against them or a loved one. Feel free to contact us on our 24/7 defense line at 1-800-342-7896. You can also contact us online or come visit us at one of our three statewide locations. We can also come to you.