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State Supreme Court to hold hearing on proposed rule change to allow cell phones into courtrooms

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The Michigan Supreme Court will hold a public hearing Wednesday on a proposed rule change that would allow cell phones in courtrooms.

Currently, local judges across the state are allowed to decide whether cell phones are allowed into courthouses.

John Nevin is with the State Supreme Court. He said the current model has created a patchwork.

“If you’re in Mount Pleasant you may have one set of rules, if you are in Grand Rapids you have another set of rules or if you’re in Traverse City or Alpena you have another set of rules. We’re looking to create more uniformity from court to court.”

According to Nevin, the last time the issue of cell phones in courtrooms was addressed was in 2009.

“Michigan is really a little bit behind in taking a look at this change,” he said. “What this proposal is really a national model that other states have already taken.”

Nevin said the issue has attracted more comments than almost any other proposed rule change he has seen.

“We’re hearing from a lot of folks who say ‘yes, lets get with the times, let's do this.’ We’ve also heard from county clerks who say ‘wait a minute we shouldn’t let folks bring their cell phones into the county clerk's office to take pictures of files.’”

Nevin said some courthouses make money off of copies of files and are concerned about a loss of revenue.

He said law enforcement groups have also raised concerns about individuals taking pictures or recording in the courtroom.

Nevin said there would still be rules against recording in a courtroom.