As of January 1, 2017, use and possession of devices that are capable of recording audio and video, including cell phones, is prohibited in certain Lancaster County court facilities, including the Lancaster County Courthouse located at 50 North Duke Street, Adult Probation and Parole offices located at 40 East King Street, the Domestic Relations lobby and offices and inside any Magisterial District Court office at the discretion of the Magisterial District Judge.
There are several exceptions with certain qualifications to the use and possession prohibitions discussed above, including exceptions for:
- Employees of court facilities, provided the device must be in silent or vibrate only mode when entering a courtroom, hearing room or grand jury room.
- Attorneys while on business representing a client, provided the device must be powered off when entering a courtroom, hearing room or grand jury room.
- Emergency responders responding to a call.
- Jurors during their period of service.
- Use of such devices for purpose of presenting evidence in any court proceeding.
- Law enforcement officers on business related to a case, provided the device is powered off when entering a courtroom, hearing room or grand jury room.
Further, even if you fit into one of the exceptions above, taking photographs, as well as video and audio recording and the use of any equipment used to do so, is broadly prohibited on any floor where there is a courtroom, hearing room, jury room, grand jury room, sheriff’s office or station, Prothonotary’s or Clerk of Courts office, office of the District Attorney, or any lockup or prisoner holding area.
By making an application to the President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, you can obtain special permission for an exception to the restrictions discussed above.
The above restrictions are put in place pursuant to Lancaster County Rule of Criminal Procedure No. 112: Full text of Rule 112. Please note that while Rule 112 states that it is effective as of January 16, 2017, all public notices that we’ve seen from Courthouse staff have stated that the restrictions will be put into place as of January 1, 2017. Better safe than sorry!