If you’re with the media

Accredited journalists and others working in the media can attend courts that are open to the public.

There is designated seating for the media inside the courtroom.

Court Security Act 2017

The Court Security Act 2017 (the Act) came into force on 1 July 2018.

The Act has expanded the means by which journalists are able to report from Court using an electronic device, which is defined as:

  • (a)   a device that operates by way of electronic impulses and that is capable of recording, transmitting or receiving data, whether in audio, visual or other format; and
  • (b)   includes a computer, a mobile phone and a camera.

A journalist is defined as:

A person who:

  • (a)   is engaged in the profession or practice of reporting, photographing, editing or recording for a media report of a news, current affairs, information or documentary nature; and
  • (b)   is paid to perform that profession or practice by a person, or body, that –
    • (i)  is subject to a code of ethics and a procedure for the Australian Press Council, or for another person or body that is prescribed, to deal with complaints about persons engaging in such a profession or practice; or
    • (ii)  is the holder of a licence under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 of the Commonwealth.

From 1 July 2018 the Magistrates Court requires any journalist attending court to apply to the Court for an accreditation badge and wear it at all times while at court.

The Magistrates Court of Tasmania will accept an ID badge issued by the Supreme Court of Tasmania as identification.  If you do not intend to apply to the Supreme Court for an ID badge you can apply to the Magistrates Court for a Magistrates Court issued ID badge.  Please note that the Supreme Court may not accept a Magistrates Court of Tasmania issued ID badge in the Supreme Court.

Subject to any restrictions imposed by the presiding magistrate, a journalist may use an electronic device in the courtroom for electronic note taking, messaging by text and filing stories.  Devices used in a courtroom must not generate sound, involve speech or interfere with the proceedings, with the court recording system or other technology.  The use of devices must not impede the administration of justice and must comply with all laws relating to the reporting of court proceedings.

Journalists are to obtain their own legal advice on the requirements to comply with the law relating to the reporting of court proceedings, including the law of contempt.

Summary

Journalists wishing to use electronic devices in a courtroom must:

  1. comply with the restrictions and permissions set out in this document;
  2. wear an ID badge provided by the Court while on Principal Court premises; and
  3. be seated in the media box if using an electronic device in a court room.

Principal Court Premises are defined as:

  1. a courtroom; and
  2. a part of premises, or a place, being used to enable a person at a different location to appear before the court by means of audio, or audio-visual, communication; and
  3. a place at which a view, hearing or the taking of evidence is being carried out in relation to proceedings before a court.

The Court wishes to avoid members of the public seeing journalists using devices and believing that they have the same rights.  If journalists can be readily identified by wearing a badge and by being seated in the media box, these restrictions should reduce the chances of members of the public attempting to also use their devices in court and allow Court proceedings to be conducted without interruption.  It will also assist Court staff to easily identify journalists.

Journalist Accreditation Badges (ID Badges)

Application

Any journalist who wishes to attend Court in that capacity will need to provide evidence that they are a journalist within the definition of the Act.

Upon provision of evidence acceptable to the Court they will be considered an accredited journalist and issued with an ID badge which they must wear whenever they attend Court.

To achieve accreditation a journalist should:

(1)   Make an appointment with the Registrar or District Registrar of the Supreme Court, or if not applying to the Supreme Court, with the Administrator of Courts or a District Registrar of the Magistrates Court of Tasmania;

(2)   Bring a letter to the appointment that confirms their employment by a body or person that is either:

  • (a)   Subject to the code of ethics of the Australian Press Council; or
  • (b)   The holder of a licence under the Broadcasting Services Act 1992.

(3)   Bring to the appointment evidence that their employer:

  • (a)   is subject to the code of ethics of the Australian Press Council  referred to in paragraph 2(a); or
  • (b)   holds the licence referred to in 2(b)

(4)   Sign the Journalist Register to receive an ID badge.

Use

A journalist who is wearing an ID badge and sitting in the media box in the courtroom is entitled to use their electronic device in the court room in accordance with:

  1. sections 11(4) and (5) of the Act;
  2. any other relevant legislation; and
  3. the media guidelines published on the Magistrates Court website at “Going to Court”, “Journalists”.

If there is no seating available in the media box, journalists must speak to Court staff before using an electronic device.

Media Guidelines

The media guidelines provide that:

  1. Accredited journalists may use an electronic device or a recording device for electronic note-taking, messaging by text, and filing stories, if:
    • That use does not interfere with the proceedings, with the court recording system or other technology,
    • That use does not impede the administration of justice and complies with and all laws relating to the reporting of court proceedings.
    • They are seated in the media box.
  2. Electronic or recording devices are not permitted to be used if they generate sound or involve speech.
  3. All electronic recording (audio and video) of Court proceedings is prohibited.
  4. Journalists reporting from court must ensure that any publication does not contravene any suppression order or any applicable legislation, and does not otherwise prejudice the trial or any related trial.  In proceedings involving a jury, journalists must not publish material which has been dealt with in the absence of the jury.
  5. Blogging from the courtroom on a platform which allows public comment and responses is not permitted.
  6. Non-accredited journalists, free-lance writers, non-accredited journalists and members of the public are not permitted to use electronic equipment in Court unless the use is expressly permitted by a judge.

Leaving your organisation

An accredited journalist who leaves their organisation must return their ID badge to the Administrator of Courts or the District Registrar immediately.

Can media attend closed courts?

Media (or the public) cannot attend closed courts, which deal with youth matters and sexual assault matters.

Magistrates may also decide to close a court hearing that is already in progress.

What access will be given to exhibits?

There is limited access to exhibits in Criminal and General matters.  Apply to Registrar or Manager if you require access.

There is limited access to exhibits in civil matters. Apply to the Registrar if you would like access.

Coroners can grant or refuse media access to exhibits (and copies of exhibits).

They may give access (subject to conditions in a particular case):

  • subject to the consent of the senior next of kin
  • if it would help prevent the recurrence of circumstances that could cause death or injury

They may not give access (subject to conditions in a particular case):

  • if it’s likely to cause grief or distress, or otherwise intrude unreasonably upon people’s privacy. Examples include photographs of bodies, wrecks or suicide notes
  • in cases of suicide or suspected suicide, except in exceptional cases
  • if the administration of justice is likely to be placed at risk

Any publication of released material should comply with relevant professional standards and media guidelines.

Ask the Coroner’s Office for access.

What can media audio record?

You are permitted to audio record only:

  • Magistrates' findings and reasons for decision
  • Magistrates' comments on passing sentence

Audio recording is for your reference only - not for broadcasting. It should not be supplied to anyone outside your own media organisation.

Only hand-held micro-cassette recorders are allowed to be used.

You must tell the Magistrate's clerk (in a discreet manner) that you will audio record proceedings. In a court with poor acoustic qualities, you may ask the clerk to place your recorder on their desk. You're responsible for starting the 'record' button when you give them your recorder. Repeated approaches to the clerk's desk to check on the recording is not desirable.

The Magistrate may prohibit the audio recording of any court proceedings.

What about other recording equipment?

Cameras (including video recording equipment) and audio recording equipment:

  • may not be brought onto any court premises unless you have the prior approval of either the Chief Magistrate or the Administrator of the Magistrates Court
  • must be used according to any conditions set out in this approval.

Radio receivers, radio transmitters, mobile telephones and pagers:

  • must not be operating in a courtroom unless you have the prior approval of the Magistrate.