State Supreme Court Announces Changes To Rules Governing Enhanced Coverage

By 
Scott Stewart
The Daily Record

The Nebraska Supreme Court adopted substantial amendments to the rules governing expanded media coverage in Nebraska trail courts earlier this month.

The rules — which govern the broadcasting, recording, photographing and live electronic reporting of judicial proceedings by the news media — continue to prohibit expanded media coverage of juvenile court proceedings and pretrial criminal hearings. It is allowed in initial criminal proceedings in county court, even without prior authorization — except when prohibited by a court order. Expanded media coverage also is prohibited for criminal and civil cases where plaintiffs or defendants are under 19 except when a minor is charged as an adult and when the court grant approval; dissolution, divorce, modification and child support enforcement hearings; all adoption proceedings; all paternity case proceedings; all protection order hearings; all guardianship, conservatorship and probate case proceedings; all trade secret case proceedings; all criminal and civil jury selections; and all grand jury proceedings. (Exceptions are allowed with consent from all parties subject to the discretion of the judicial officer.)

The revised rules clarify that a judicial officer’s finding of a violation and the decision to exclude, suspend, limit or terminate expanded news coverage for one or more individual journalists is not the same as a suspension or revocation of credentials issued by the Public Information Office of the Nebraska Supreme Court. That office makes independent decisions on suspending, revoking and issuing journalists’ credentials.

The Nebraska Supreme Court is creating a process for issuing media credentials and maintaining a list of journalists in good standing with the court’s rules.

According to the revised rules, credentials will be issued to journalists who write for newspapers or magazines with regular frequency or who prepare news for broadcast on radio or television stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission. The rules do not specifically mention bloggers or independent journalists broadcasting using social media or similar platforms.

Credentials will be issued for two-year intervals. Journalists are required to remain in good standing, and credentials are deemed to be expired when they are no longer employed by a news media organization. The revised rules do not specifically address freelance journalists or those without a formal employment relationship.

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