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Take your cell phone to court (access required)

About five years ago I created a "technology chart" of all of the Maryland circuit and district courts. The chart, intended as a handy reference, outlined what technology (digital presenters, DVD players, etc.) the courts had, the process for lawfully getting technology past security, and the rules on cell phones. Back then, the courts were fragmented, and had various policies regarding cell phones. Some courts banned them outright. Some courts banned phones capable of taking pictures. The rise of smartphones has made those rules unbearable to the bar. Lawyers depend more and more on their cell phones. In the beginning, it was nice to have a cell phone so we could contact our clients and find out why they were not at court when we told them to be there. Once we were able to access e-mails through our phones, they were useful to contact the office for emergency trial research, and to communicate with experts to let them know their testimony was going to be earlier or later than expected. Now, phones with access to the Internet allow us to perform instantaneous research on potential jurors, to find caselaw through Westlaw or Lexis, and to check our calendars for conflicts when selecting trial dates. If I had to choose between having a legal pad or my phone at court, I would choose my phone every time.

One comment

  1. Hi,

    I live in Massachusetts, most courts allow defendants and spectators in with a cell phone but the South Boston Court will not allow same defendants or spectators in with cell phones. This means that one cannot access any service in the building if they posses a cell phone(even without a camera). Court officers say, that one can pay $4 for a coffee shop to watch the phone. So unless I have $4 I cannot access the court house.

    Isn’t this wrong that I cannot get any service such as filing a complaint, see probation officer, etc if I possess a cell phone? But if you are incarcerated with a phone it is not problem, they allow the access.

    Please help or give me a pointer. I know your jurisdiction is different than mine but I would very appreciate any kind of reply.

    Thank you,
    David Johanson
    [email protected]