There was a massive split last week after Seth Willis, who is the face of the Observe New England YouTube channel, posted a video while “going about his personal business” at Rochester Court House in Rochester, New England. Hampshire. Seth posted a video of what he called a “First Amendment audit” while at the You KNOW you are from Rochester, NH courthouse on Facebook and met a very divisive. Claire.
First, the background to the whole problem. In Seth’s “First Amendment audit” (and for clarity, the quotes simply cite what Seth called him, not to say with a bit of sarcasm or defiance) he challenged a sign that is posted on the door leading from the front steps of the courthouse inside which prohibits unauthorized video or audio recording.
As is clearly stated, the sign refers to Rule 54 of the NH Circuit Administrative Court Order, which is listed on the New Hampshire State Supreme Court Rules website with the title ” Administrative judges and administrative council ”. Looking at Rule 54, all that is really listed are the duties of the judge and the Council, but no real in-depth message about the video and / or audio recording inside the courthouse; However, that said, there are mentions of employee and board member compliance with applicable court rules and administrative orders, so it may be, but just not listed verbatim as such. .
That said, looking specifically at NH Circuit Court Order 2011-17, she states:
“No camera or audio equipment may be used in the hall or public area, outside the courtroom, of a courthouse, except when the president of the court, after consultation with the administrative judge and the appropriate office responsible for ensure the security of the courthouse, determine that a Designated staging area is appropriate under the circumstances of a given case.
With that said, Seth went inside the courthouse to the front desk during filming, which encountered immediate opposition from front desk security, who went ahead and called the dept. Rochester Police Department following several requests to stop Seth from filming. To Seth’s credit, he demanded a better explanation and a copy of the aforementioned Circuit Court order and Supreme Court rule, but was met with silence from the clearly annoyed security.
As promised, and although videotaped, security called the Rochester Police Department, who introduced themselves and, after Seth took care of his “personal affairs” (again, strictly citing, with no snark involved), spoke to him calmly outside. of the Palace of Justice. The whole conversation was actually very calm and not at all a heated exchange or attempted one-upmanship – so basically the opposite of every Facebook post.
Which side of the fence do you fall on after you’ve had all the information and the video itself? Was Seth out of range to record inside the courthouse lobby, despite what the panel and the 2011-17 Circuit Court order mentions, or was he within his rights and encountered a unnecessary agitation and resistance from courthouse security guards? As mentioned above, this is roughly a 50/50 split in the comments section of Seth’s post in the aforementioned Rochester Facebook group.
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