L.A. Courts End Remote Audio Program After Illicit Britney Spears Hearing Recording Surfaces

It didn’t take long for the audio from Britney Spears’ June 23 hearing to hit the internet, despite a clear and unequivocal warning from LA County Judge Brenda Penny that recording was not permitted. . Whether the individual or those who committed the act will face any penalties remains to be seen, but the court took another action in response: It shut down the program entirely. Attend your remote audio.

According to California state and local court regulations, court hearings (including members of the press) may not be taped without the judge’s prior authorization in the form of a written order. According to the 2019 California Rules of Courts, “Any violation of this rule or an order made pursuant to this rule is an unlawful interference with court proceedings and may constitute a grounds for an order to cease media coverage, a reason for contempt of court, or an order to impose money or other sanctions as provided by law. “

When asked what the court’s general policy is regarding action if a proceeding is recorded without permission, LA County Superior Court Communications Director Ann E. Donlan simply said: “The parties unauthorized publication of audio recordings of court proceedings in violation of a court order is subject to sanctions and other potential liability under section 1209 of the California Code of Civil Procedure and other applicable law. “

Penny, at the start of the hearing, not only reminded listeners of the anti-recording policy, but also warned against direct tweets and told those present in the courtroom that they needed to use a pen and paper instead of a laptop to take notes. However, audio of Spears’ testimony began circulating just hours after the hearing, including in a YouTube post that was taken down because of a copyright claim from the court.

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The next day, the court issued a notice that, effective Monday, the remote audio attendance program would be discontinued.

“Effective June 28, the Court will no longer offer the Remote Audio Attendance Program (RAAP) for remotely listening to courtroom proceedings,” reads the notice, which also details details on rolling back to other COVID-19 protocols. “The Court that implemented this interim program during the pandemic recognized that there could be abuse of a Court order prohibiting the recording, filming, and distribution of proceedings. The widespread public outrage in a recent lawsuit underscores the need for a return to direct, public courtroom proceedings, which is a welcome development. “

The program, launched in January in response to the pandemic, marked a step towards improving court access to the media. Even before COVID, cramped courtrooms and different judicial preferences regarding the use of laptops for taking notes made covering the proceedings logistically difficult. . And, after the OJ Simpson murder trial became a televised international spectacle, the courts have long been cautious about allowing even genuine media to record.

Amid the pandemic, federal courts have also experimented with allowing access to hearings via audio and video feeds (although the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals has frequently issued online hearings for quite some time). There is now a bill in the US Senate, called the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2021, that gives federal judges full discretion to allow courtroom proceedings to be televised or recorded otherwise. The bipartisan bill was opposed by the Judiciary Conference, a policy-making body for US courts, arguing that cameras have a frightening and negative effect on litigants, witnesses and jurors. .

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During the June 23 hearing, as you can hear in the illegal audio, the performer said her management was “abusive” and listed a series of complaints including her She doesn’t have any control over the medication she prescribes and can’t ask anyone. to make an appointment with her doctor to have her IUD removed. On Tuesday, her father, Jamie Spears, filed two documents in response to those claims. One is a petition asking Penny to “request an investigation of the issues and claims” she raised. The other is a response to a pending offer that would make Jodi Montgomery’s temporary role as Spears’ person conservator permanent, requiring an evidence hearing. Jamie Spears noted that he has not had any input on his daughter’s medical care as of 2019 and challenges the thesis that she is incapable of consenting to medical treatment. . He noted that Spears’ court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III stated in the lawsuit her incapacity was determined by court order in October 2014, but Jamie said that “there is no such finding and no such command”. (Read profile below.)

On Wednesday, Penny signed an order reflecting her decision in November to form the Bessemer Trust as a co-custodian of the estate with Jamie Spears.

The next hearing is currently set for July 14. Unless there is a change in court policy, the hearing will not be streamed. The Judiciary Council, California’s policy-making body, said it was a local court decision and “we are not aware of any motion to consistent audio or video streams during the process.” proceedings in court”.

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