Use of Cameras and Other Electronic Devices in Missouri Courts


Missouri has allowed cameras and other recording devices into its courtrooms for more than a quarter of a century. A task force the Supreme Court of Missouri established in October 1991 studied the issue, recognizing camera access to Missouri courtrooms is not a constitutional right. But to help make the judicial process more accessible to all citizens, the task force recommended the Court adopt a rule allowing broadcasting, televising, recording and still photography in certain courts and under certain conditions. First adopted in September 1992, the Court expanded Court Operating Rule 16 to allow cameras in all Missouri courtrooms, effective July 1, 1995, within certain guidelines addressing issues such as advance notice by the media, placement of cameras in the courtroom, and restrictions on camera or audio equipment.
 
Effective July 1, 2018, the Supreme Court of Missouri – by order dated March 21, 2018, and corrected by order dated May 29, 2018 – has revised the entirety of Court Operating Rule 16. It also repealed a model local rule regarding recording of judicial proceedings by order dated May 29, 2018, and effective July 1, 2018.

The new version of the operating rule stems from several years of study – predominantly by members of the Missouri Press Bar Commission and Court counsel – and reflects comments received from media, judges and court staff alike after the proposed modifications to the operating rule were published in March. The Court appreciates the time and efforts of everyone who provided thoughtful input for improving this operating rule, which is significantly streamlined and modernized to address current technology.