The news media must notify a coordinator of their intent to provide film, videotape or still photographic coverage of a judicial proceeding by submitting the appropriate form a reasonable time in advance of the start of the proceeding. "A reasonable time" is defined by Hawai`i Supreme Court Rule 5.1(e)(1).
Only one written request is necessary for any given case. Once an application is made, all media are considered to have applied, i.e., if a television station submits an application, newspaper coverage is included and vice versa. Once an application is submitted for a case, that application will apply through the final judgment and any post-judgment motions and appeals.
Only one news media television camera and one still camera each with a single camera operator will be permitted in the courtroom while court is in session. A second television camera may be allowed by the judge for live coverage. A second still photographer may be admitted at the discretion of the judge. Cameras and operators must be in designated locations. Do not conduct interviews in any part of the courtroom.
No artificial lighting device of any kind shall be used in connection with the television camera or still camera. No equipment or clothing of camera operators can bear any insignia or identification of the individual media or network involved in the extended coverage.
It is up to the judge to decide where cameras and microphones can be placed in the courtroom. Judges differ on this - so ask.
News media must arrange any pooling of footage or film among themselves. The court will not participate in any pooling agreement.
Equipment and camera operators must be ready to record prior to the court proceeding.
Equipment must not be installed, moved or removed from the courtroom while court is in session. Camera operators may not move around the courtroom while court is in session.
Never photograph jurors or even give the appearance of photographing jurors.
There shall be no audio coverage of conferences between attorneys and clients, or between co-counsel and clients or parties, or between counsel and the judge held at the bench. There shall be no extended coverage of any conference or proceedings held in the chambers of a judge or any in camera proceeding.
A party may object to extended coverage at the beginning of any new stage of the case. If a party objects or if the court orders on its own motion, a hearing will be held to determine whether extended coverage will be allowed for that stage of the case. The media have standing to be heard at the hearing and may present evidence. Any objection by a party to extended coverage must be made before extended coverage begins for that stage of the case. If no party objects, no hearing will be held.
When a request for extended coverage has been denied, the media or any party may seek review of the order by filing a motion with the appropriate administrative judge. A motion for review shall be filed no later than 5 days after the filing of the order regarding coverage. A party may seek appellate review of an order regarding extended coverage, including any such order issued by the administrative judge, but immediate appellate review of such an order is not available as a matter of right.
A judge may, whether or not extended coverage has been otherwise allowed, grant a timely request by a party, a member of the public, or an individual member of the media, to audio record proceedings by means of a small electronic device such as laptops, tablets, cell phones or smart phones with a built-in microphone and operated from the seat of the person who made the request.
Any violation of Hawai`i Supreme Court Rules 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 may result in sanctions including but not limited to the termination of media coverage privileges.
When a question about a case arises, a journalist's natural instinct is to call the judge handling the matter. After all, who could provide a more accurate, authoritative answer? This is almost always a bad idea.
State judges are bound by the Revised Code of Judicial Conduct, which says that "A judge shall not, while a proceeding is pending or impending in any court, make any public comment that might reasonably be expected to affect its outcome or impair its fairness or make any nonpublic comment that might substantially interfere with a fair trial or hearing." You can find the Code online at http://www.courts.state.hi.us/docs/court_rules/rules/rcjc.htm. (The same rules apply to judges' assistants and law clerks.) Some judges will respond, or have a court employee respond, to a journalist's questions about general procedures and processes not related to a specific case.
That is not to say you can never speak with a state judge. Many judges speak at or attend bar association programs and other public events, at which it is perfectly appropriate to introduce yourself. Some also will talk informally to journalists about non case-related matters.
The Hawai`i State Judiciary has a Communications and Community Relations Office expressly responsible for assisting journalists reporting on the state court system. The office may be reached at (808) 539-4909, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or facsimile (808) 539-4801.
Clerks who staff the judge's chamber may be your best sources for routine information about a case, such as when's the next hearing date.
Please keep in mind that even these sources have their limits. It's not their job to talk about the substance of a case - such as the meaning of a ruling or how the charges in an indictment can be defended against. They may be able to help with access to court documents, schedules, pretrial hearings, and trials. They do not interpret those documents and proceedings.
Ho`ohiki provides Internet access to the Judiciary's HAJIS database. Users may search case information by case ID number or by a party's name, and obtain case information such as a list of documents filed in the case, court minutes, and trial dates. Court pleadings are not available through Ho`ohiki but may be found in case files obtained through the Circuit Court Legal Documents Branches. The records available through Ho`ohiki are not official records.
eCourt* Kokua provides information on statewide traffic court cases. The information is provided as a public service for use as reference material and does not constitute an official court record