News Media and the Court

 Statement of Principles
 Guidelines For Disclosure and Reporting of Information on Criminal Proceedings
 Media Coverage at the Court

Statement of Principles

These guidelines are currently recognized by attorneys and judges in Oregon.

Oregon's Bill of Rights provides both for fair trials and for freedom of the press. These rights are basic and unqualified. They are not ends in themselves but are necessary guarantors of freedom for the individual and the public's rights to be informed. The necessity of preserving both the right to fair trial and the freedom to disseminate the news is of concern to responsible members of the legal and journalistic professions and is of equal concern to the public. At times these two rights appear to be in conflict with each other.

In an effort to mitigate this conflict, the Oregon State Bar, the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and the Oregon Association of Broadcasters have adopted the following statement of principles to keep the public fully informed without violating the rights of any individual.

  1. The news media have the right and the responsibility to print and to broadcast the truth.
  2. However, the demands of accuracy and objectivity in news reporting should be balanced with the demands of fair play. The public has a right to be informed. The accused has the right to be judged in an atmosphere free from undue prejudice.
  3. Good taste should prevail in the selection, printing and broadcasting of the news. Morbid or sensational details of criminal behavior should not be exploited.
  4. The right of decision about the news rests with the editor or news director. In the exercise of judgment he should consider that:
    • an accused person is presumed innocent until proved guilty;
    • readers and listeners are potential jurors;
    • no person's reputation should be injured needlessly.
    • Reporting on the eve of trial may prejudice potential jurors. Just prior to trial, stories reviewing a suspect's criminal history, incriminating statements, or other prejudicial detail should be avoided whenever possible.
  5. The public is entitled to know how justice is being administered. However, it is unprofessional for any lawyer to exploit any medium of public information to enhance his side of a pending case. It follows that the public prosecutor should avoid taking unfair advantage of his position as an important source of news; this shall not be construed to limit his obligation to make available information to which the public is entitled.

In recognition of these principles, the undersigned hereby testify to their continuing desire to achieve the best possible accommodation of the rights of the individual and the rights of the public when these two fundamental precepts appear to be in conflict in the administration of justice.

(Oregon State Bar, Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, Oregon Association of Broadcasters)

Guidelines For Disclosure and Reporting of Information on Criminal Proceedings

It is generally appropriate to disclose or report the following:

  1. The arrested person's name, age, residence, employment, marital status and similar biographical information.
  2. The charge.
  3. The amount of bail.
  4. The identity of and biographical information concerning both complaining party and victim.
  5. The identity of the investigating and arresting agency and the length of the investigation.
  6. The circumstances of arrest, including time, place, resistance, pursuit and weapons used.

It is rarely appropriate to disclose for publication or to report prior to the trial the following:

  1. The contents of any admission or confession, or the fact that an admission or confession has been made.
  2. Opinions about an arrested person's character, guilt or innocence.
  3. Opinions concerning evidence or argument in the case.
  4. Statements concerning anticipated testimony or the truthfulness of prospective witnesses.
  5. The results of fingerprints, polygraph examinations, ballistic tests or laboratory tests.
  6. Precise descriptions of items seized or discovered during investigation.
  7. Prior criminal charges and convictions.
  8. Evidentiary details that were excluded in prior judicial proceedings in the same case.


  1. Photographs of a suspect may be released by law enforcement personnel provided it doesn't interfere with enforcement of the law. It is proper to disclose such information as may be necessary to enlist public assistance in apprehending fugitives from justice. Such disclosure may include photographs as well as records of prior arrests and convictions.
  2. Law enforcement and court personnel should not prevent the photographing of defendants when they are in public places outside the courtroom. However, they should not pose the defendant.

The above Guidelines are supplemental to and should be interpreted with the "Oregon Bar-Press-Broadcasters Joint Statement of Principles" adopted in 1962.

The Guidelines are cautionary, not mandatory. They do not prohibit release of, or publication of, information needed to identify or aid in the capture of a suspect or information required in the vital public interest after arrest. Neither do they proscribe publication of information which is already in the public domain.

Media Coverage at the Courts

Updated Aug. 1, 2023

Below is a summary of Uniform Trial Court Rule 3.180 – Electronic Recording and Writing. Click here to read the full rule. Oregon Judicial Department also has a Media Coverage at the Courts fact sheet.

Electronic note-taking and recording generally are allowed, but the court needs to approve in advance.


Electronic recording:

  • Video or audio recording and still photography.
  • Includes using a cell phone, tablet, computer, camera, audio recorder, or any other means.

Electronic writing:

  • Taking notes or otherwise writing by electronic means.
  • Includes, but is not limited to, word processing software, texts, emails, and instant messages.

Electronic transmission:

  • Sending electronic recordings or writings.
  • Includes, but is not limited to, emails, texts, instant messages, live-streaming, or posting to social media or networking services.

You need ADVANCE permission from the presiding judge or designee before you:

  • Take electronic notes or do other electronic writing in the courtroom.
  • Electronically record in the courtroom or other court areas, including hallways and lobbies.
  • Transmit electronic recordings or writings from the courtroom, including live-streaming and transferring video files electronically.
  • Transmit electronic writing directly and specifically to a witness while remotely observing or participating in a proceeding, unless the witness has been excused by the court.

Each item listed above requires separate permission.

The court may:

  • Limit the number, type, location, and operation of electronic devices. Generally, a total of one video camera, one still camera, and one audio recorder are allowed.
  • Require pool coverage. All pooling arrangements are up to the media participants, including arrangements for sharing, verifying technical capabilities, and resolving disputes.
  • Allow you to write or record, but not transmit (specific permission is required for each).
  • Impose other limits to preserve decorum or protect jurors, witnesses, or parties.
  • Deny your request if you cannot demonstrate that you understand this rule.
  • Terminate permissions if rules are violated or media can’t agree on pooling.
  • Have additional rules specifically for their court. Check with the trial court administrator to learn more.

Recording is NEVER allowed for:

  • Juvenile cases
  • Many family law cases (dissolution, paternity, custody, visitation, support)
  • Civil commitment proceedings
  • Protective orders (abuse, restraining, stalking orders)
  • Voir dire (jury selection)
  • Proceedings related to sex crimes, if the victim has requested no recording
  • Private conversations or notes (including with judges, attorneys, and clients)
  • Jurors in any court area during the course of the juror’s trial
  • Times when the court is in recess or off the record

Additional Information:


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