Dec 11, 2012 (Chicago Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Cell phones and other electronic devices will be banned in all Cook County courthouses that hear criminal cases starting next month, the court system's chief judge announced today.
Judges told Chief Judge Timothy Evans that people in court were using their cell phones to take pictures of witnesses, judges, jurors and prospective jurors. Some also were sending text messages to witnesses outside court and others were trying to livestream remarks by judges on the bench, according to a release from Evans' office.
An order regarding the ban was entered today, and takes effect Jan. 14.
The order does not affect attornies, government employees, police officers or members of the news media. The use of electronic devices will be restricted to outside courtrooms until their use by media is allowed in Cook County under recent statewide changes regarding broadcast of court proceedings, according to the release.
Jurors are also exempt from the ban, though jurors are banned from using the devices while a trial is underway.
Judges may enter orders for their individual courtrooms to allow the use of electronic devices. The ban does not include the Richard J. Daley Center, which handles civil cases in Chicago.
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