The Clerk's Office of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida is dedicated to furthering the public's understanding of the judiciary through accurate media coverage. This page provides general information about covering a case in the Middle District. However, a presiding judge may issue case-specific procedures with which a journalist must comply.
Most court proceedings are open to the press and the public, and journalists may enter the courthouse and attend proceedings under the same rules that govern the public. Generally, seating will not be reserved for media, but in certain high-profile cases the court may require journalists to register in advance for reserved seating. If a courtroom has insufficient seating, the court may arrange to have the proceeding streamed to an overflow courtroom.
Rules for Cell Phones, Laptops, Cameras, etc.
Local Rule 7.02 provides the court's policy regarding electronics in the courthouse. Absent a court order permitting entry with electronics, no one, except those authorized by Local Rule 7.02, may bring a personal electronic device (e.g., a cell phone, laptop computer, or tablet) beyond a courthouse's security checkpoint. Photographing, recording, or broadcasting of any kind during a court proceeding is prohibited.
Room 4-420 on the fourth floor of the Orlando Courthouse is reserved for media. Furnishings include tables, chairs, storage lockers, a coffee maker, a microwave oven, and a sink. The other divisions do not have a dedicated media room.
The most convenient way for journalists to obtain court records is through the PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) database. To open a PACER account, contact the PACER Service Center at (800) 676-6856 or go to https://pacer.psc.uscourts.gov/pscof/regWizard.jsf. There is no fee for creating a PACER account, but there is a fee to access case information in PACER. You can also obtain a paper copy of a document filed in a case by visiting the Clerk's Office in any division at a fee of $.50 a page.
Jurors are strictly prohibited from discussing cases that are in progress, and members of the media must not contact jurors, their families, or their close friends during the trial. Improper interaction with a juror can result in his or her dismissal from a panel. It also can lead to a mistrial, and a judge may choose to impose court sanctions against the responsible journalist.
Sketch artists are prohibited from drawing detailed sketches of witnesses and jurors.
For More Information
The Administrative Office of the United States Courts has developed the following publications to introduce the media to the federal judicial system: Understanding the Federal Courts and A Journalist's Guide to the Federal Courts.
Journalists should not contact the assigned judge's chambers. Information regarding a specific case or proceeding can be obtained from PACER. Questions that cannot be answered by the links on this page or other publicly available information may be directed to Megan Mann, Information Officer/Attorney Advisor, who can be reached at (904) 549-1915 or email@example.com
Journalists may also contact the U.S. Attorney's Office for information about criminal arraignments and appearances.