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Court Rules on iPhone, iPad Use, by Jeff Richardson, iPhone J.D. Blog (with hat tip to Ray Ward, Louisiana Civil Appeals Blog)


If there are rules for or against using any type of technology in a courtroom, you will normally find the court’s preference in its local rules. Courts don’t write local rules just for fun. They mean it when they say they don’t like something. If your court clearly states in its local rules that certain types of technology are not tolerated, don’t temp fate by assuming that you will be the exception.

Please note the comments at the end of the article. There is more valuable information about other court rules. -CCE

There are countless ways that an iPhone and iPad can be useful to an attorney while in court — whether you are at counsel table or just monitoring proceedings from the cheap seats in back. I often use my iPhone to look up a statute, check my calendar, get some information from an email, or remind myself of the name of another attorney in the courtroom. I often use my iPad to look at a case cited by an opponent, review the key part of an exhibit or transcript, or take notes. But you cannot do any of this unless the court lets you use electronic devices in the courtroom. I remember a time many years ago when the Eastern District of Louisiana did not allow any cell phones, even if turned off, and if my Palm Treo was still in my pocket, I had to walk back to my office, a few blocks away, and leave it there. Many courts are now more lenient, but attorneys should not just assume that it is okay to plan to use an iPhone and iPad in court. Instead, it is wise to first determine if there is an applicable court rule on the issue.

I write about this today because Ray Ward, an appellate attorney at my law firm, has a case that is soon set for oral argument before the U.S. Fifth Circuit, and in connection with that case, yesterday he received a notice from the Fifth Circuit of a new policy on electronic devices in the courtroom. Ray wrote about the notice (and attached a copy) in this post on his Louisiana Civil Appeals blog. In short, you can now have an iPhone or iPad in the courtroom, but it must be turned off unless you are presenting argument or at counsel table. And even then, you cannot take pictures or video, nor can you use social media. . . .