Public Access Guidance for Media in Higher Profile Cases
Public access to all court proceedings in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota is vitally important and the Court provides public access to the fullest extent possible. However, proceedings held in the Court are subject to the rules mandated by the U.S. Judicial Conference, which prohibit broadcasting in any form. This means that streaming, either live or after the fact, photography, or audio recording are strictly prohibited, including in virtual proceedings.
Streaming cannot be offered by the Court in any case and streaming or recording by case participants and members of the media or sharing of virtual log in information to others is strictly prohibited.
Because there is no courtroom in which the media can sit and observe, members of the media who have received their credentials from the Court may request to observe proceedings virtually by completing the form on the Court’s website by 12:00 p.m. the business day before the proceeding. Media interested in following cases within the District of Minnesota are also encouraged to obtain an ECF Media Account, which is independent from being credentialed and will allow them to sign-up for alerts in any case.
Information on initial appearances will be posted in the morning on the day of the appearance to the Court’s calendars. Due to the nature of initial appearances, the Court does not have advanced notice of appearances, so calendars are updated as soon as the schedule is finalized. Virtual access may not always be possible; in the event video access is unavailable, credentialed media should join the proceeding via the dial-in information listed in the “General Public” section above. Additional information on initial appearances may be obtained from the U.S. Attorney’s Office
In-Person Proceedings and Trials
Because of the Court’s requirements for social distancing to protect the health and safety of the parties, counsel, Court personnel, and the public, there is limited seating in the gallery of the courtrooms. For higher profile proceedings, seating will be first designated for parties connected to the case, credentialed media, and then the general public. However, in proceedings and trials in high demand, the Court will plan for a live feed of the proceedings to another location in the courthouse to allow for additional viewing.
Live Audio Streaming Pilot Project for Civil Proceedings
The United States District Court, District of Minnesota is excited to announce that we are participating in a two-year pilot program that permits a limited number of district courts across the nation to livestream audio of qualified civil proceedings with the consent of the parties. The pilot program is intended to test the feasibility of live audio streaming for the future.
Under the pilot project, only civil cases meeting specific criteria are eligible for live audio streaming. A judge, on their own, or upon request of a party made through the judge’s courtroom deputy clerk or other designated staff member, may identify a proceeding as potentially eligible for live audio streaming. The Court then will provide the parties a form to complete jointly and file to confirm that the proceeding meets the requirements of the pilot project. Live audio of appropriately qualified civil proceedings will be streamed on the Court’s YouTube channel. Streamed content will not be available for playback on YouTube after the proceeding.
Any content streamed in connection with the pilot project is not the official record of the proceeding and must not, in full or in part, be recorded, broadcast, posted, rebroadcast, or otherwise reproduced in any form by any person or entity outside of the federal judiciary.
The Judicial Conference of the United States has authorized this pilot program. The pilot is be administered by the Judicial Conference’s Court Administration and Case Management Committee and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts and will be used to study the feasibility of livestreaming audio of district court civil proceedings.
The pilot program is limited to civil proceedings involving matters of public interest. Trials and civil proceedings involving live witness testimony or sealed, confidential, or classified materials are excluded from the pilot.
Additional questions can be directed to Public Information Officer Rebeccah Parks at Rebeccah_Parks@mnd.uscourts.gov.
Whom to Contact
The Court's Public Information Officer, Rebeccah Parks, can be reached at (612) 664-5124 or Rebeccah_Parks@mnd.uscourts.gov.
Courtrooms are generally open to the public, so journalists do not need special credentials, other than government-issued photo identification - such as a driver's license - to enter facilities in the District of Minnesota.
Members of the media wishing to access the secured Media Room and/or use cell phones in the courtrooms must obtain credentials by completing the application here.
For high profile hearings or trials that are expected to attract a large number of journalists, the court may issue a Decorum Order with specific restrictions or requirements for courtroom access, seating, and other logistical issues.
Rules for Cell Phones, Laptops, Digital Notebooks, Cameras, and Tape Recorders
The requirements and restrictions set out in the Policy on the Media’s Use of Cameras and Electronic Recording Devices apply to journalists who wish to cover cases being heard in any of the four courthouses of the District of Minnesota. Journalists are expected to familiarize themselves with and abide by the guidelines. Failure to do so may result in removal from the courthouse and other penalties.
Cameras in the Courthouse
Unless otherwise invited by the Court to cover an event, such as a courthouse renaming, photographs and videos are strictly prohibited in all courtrooms, this includes from cell phones, tablets, and cameras. Cameras may be used in the first floor lobbies of the Diana E. Murphy United States Courthouse in Minneapolis and the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and United States Courthouse in St. Paul for interviews, attorney statements, and general news coverage, so long as the recording does not capture the screening areas in any way. For clarification, please contact Rebeccah Parks.
Court Records and Case Information
Members of the media are eligible to register for a Media CM/ECF account. This account allows a user to receive notices of electronic filing (NEFs), using PACER to view documents. To access the registration form, click here.
Information on configuring a Media CM/ECF account is accessible here.
Follow the Court on Social Media
Click here to access the Court’s social media page for occasional press releases, news alerts, and photos from Court events.
Covering Federal Court
The Administrative Office of the United States Courts has developed the following resources to introduce the media and public to the federal judiciary:
The Federal Judicial Center's website also has helpful information for journalists, including judges' biographies, reports and studies, and historical timelines.
For More Information
Contact the U.S. Attorney's Office for information about criminal arraignments and appearances.