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American Bar Association Encourages Cellphone Availability in Court

The ABA House of Delegates passed a resolution earlier this month to encourage courts to allow cellphones in courts.  They characterized it as an access to justice issue.

Pro se litigants may have evidence on their cellphones that is needed for a hearing.  They may use them to do legal research.  Many need the devices to contact their employers, arrange a ride or deal with child care.

It is also often the case that people attending court may not know that a particular court does not allow cellphones until they arrive at the court.  In that circumstance, they may be instructed to place the device in their vehicle, but if they were dropped off at court, they have nowhere to store the device.  None of the courts I have attended that disallow cellphones provide any type of storage for the devices.

Courts and security staff are concerned that phones will interrupt court proceedings or contain firearms or be used to threaten witnesses, jurors, prosecutors or other trial participants.

Courts do need to allow the cellphones but put in place rules for screening and handling them during the proceedings.

Sean A. Black

Sean A. Black is a 1992 graduate of the Emory University School of Law. He has been in private practice in Toccoa, Georgia since June 1, 1992.

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