Beginning on May 1, 2023, judicial officers around the state will have the authority to allow news media into their courtrooms to record, photograph, and broadcast court proceedings that are not confidential.

Washington County Circuit Judge Larry Medlock and Superior Court Judge Dustin Houchin say they are going to study the situation and make a decision closer to the deadline. 

“The new rule was just released,” Judge Houchin replied in an email from WSLM. ” I am currently undecided on what my approach will be. I’m going to study the proposed guidelines, balance the desire for access with the privacy and security concerns, and hopefully make a decision prior to May 1.”

Judge Medlock also agreed it would take time to process this new information. 

“I’ve been aware that there was a change of policy coming for a period of time,” said Medlock. “My thoughts are that for cases of significant public interest that I will probably allow the media to report with audio/video equipment so long as it is not intrusive and does not intimidate or interfere with the process. 

“I’m thinking that I would not allow the media to record jury selection in order to avoid intrusion or embarrassment for those people who are mandated to assist in the trial, but the lawyers, witnesses,( with certain exceptions like molest and rape victims and minors),  parties and court personnel should expect to have their performance monitored. I am still evaluating but that is my initial thoughts,” he said. 

Rule 2.17 of the Code of Judicial Conduct has long prohibited broadcasting, recording, or taking photographs of court proceedings and areas adjacent to courtrooms without prior approval by the Indiana Supreme Court. An order amending Rule 2.17, effective May 1, 2023, gives the discretion to allow cameras to the local judges.

“This is the culmination of years of work and pilot projects with discussion and evaluation,” said Chief Justice Loretta H. Rush. “Trial court judges are in the best position to determine how to balance the importance of transparency while protecting the rights of people involved in a court matter.”

This change follows a 4-month pilot program, a public comment period, and careful evaluation by the Indiana Supreme Court. Longtime work by the Indiana Judicial Conference Community Relations Committee and Court Security Committee, along with the Hoosier State Press Association and the Indiana Broadcasters Association, led to the most recent pilot project. The judges who opened their courtrooms during the pilot—Judges Fran Gull, Marianne Vorhees, Bruce Parent, Sean Persin, and Leslie Shively—provided essential feedback.

Under the new rule, cameras are still prohibited in court unless authorized by the judge. Commentary included with the rule provides further conditions; for example, certain people—including minors and jurors—may not be shown on camera, only news media as defined in Ind. Code 34-46-4-1 may be authorized, and the judge may revoke authorization at any time for any reason.