Cellphones Permitted Inside Some Del. Court Facilities – With Restrictions

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The Delaware Judiciary is allowing people to carry their cell phones into some Family Court and Justice of the Peace Court facilities, under a pilot project.

Effective today (Monday), phones are permitted at Family Court of Sussex and Kent Counties, JP Court 3 and 17 in Georgetown and at JP Court 11 in New Castle County.

Members of the public have been prohibited from bringing their phones inside Delaware court facilities since 2005 except if special permission is granted. A Judicial Branch committee has been studying the policy for several years, and determined that cell phones have become an essential tool of daily life for many.

Phones must be silenced in courtrooms, and there is to be no recording or photographing inside court facilities – although phones could be used to photograph or scan non-confidential court documents or files inside court clerks’ offices.

Additional security measures may be implemented, but if the pilot program goes well the cell phone ban may be lifted at other court facilities in the future.

“The courts must strike a delicate balance between the needs of security and decorum, and access to justice,” Delaware Family Court Chief Judge Michael Newell. “And with the increased reliance on cell phones in our everyday lives, the time seemed right to revisit our longstanding cell phone policy. We are optimistic that this new pilot program to allow the public to bring in cell phones – with appropriate limits – will prove beneficial to both the public and the courts by making a trip to the courthouse less burdensome while maintaining a level of safety. I am pleased Family Court is a part of this effort.”

The full committee report is available on the Administrative Office of the Courts’ Publications and Reports webpage https://courts.delaware.gov/forms/download.aspx?id=133868.