A Nashville judge says a reporter who had been observing her court must get written permission before entering, The Tennessean reports. Presiding General Sessions Judge Rachel Bell said a reporter must comply with Tennessee Supreme Court media guidelines, which apply to using cameras and recording and broadcasting information. Courtrooms are open to the public, and that right extends to reporters as members of the public, legal experts say.
Bell cited the rule’s requirement that news organizations give two-day notice before bringing in cameras. Bell wrote that her preference was the two-day notice come via fax or email and said she would respond granting approval. “Once approval is granted you are allowed to enter her courtroom,” she said in an email to The Tennessean. “You must bring the written approval to grant entry to her courtroom.” Bell, who is the subject of an official judicial conduct inquiry, has been criticized for a schedule that once left four people in jail without a hearing beyond the guideline time period of 10 days. Several Tennessean reporters observed her courtroom last week.