The top judge for the US District Court of the Southern District of Florida has ruled that journalists covering former US President Donald Trump’s arraignment in Miami on Tuesday, June 13 cannot not bring cellphones into the courtroom.
“It is ORDERED that on Tuesday, June 13, 2023, all cellular phones and/or electronic equipment are hereby prohibited for news reporters and other members of the media inside the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. United States Courthouse in Miami,” Chief US District Judge Cecilia Altonaga wrote in her ruling on Monday.
The judge added that US Marshals Service will “continue to inspect all cellular phones and other electronic equipment as they are brought into the federal courthouse facilities as directed to protect the Bench, Bar, and public from harm” and that anyone violating the order could face punishment up to and including 30 days in jail and $5,000 fine.
Altonaga’s order comes after a separate ruling by US Magistrate Judge Jonathan Goodman denying a request by several media groups for cameras in the courtroom for the 76-year-old former president’s arraignment Tuesday on 37 felony counts related to his alleged mishandling of classified White House documents.
Judge Goodman also rejected a parallel request for release of the court’s audio feed of Tuesday’s proceedings.
Goodman argued that “allowing photographs would undermine the massive security arrangements put in place” for Trump’s Tuesday appearance in federal court.
In his ruling, Goodman acknowledged that Trump’s arraignment is “undoubtedly ‘special’” and “genuinely historic and of huge importance,” but he wrote that the press coalition did not “cite any case or legal authority which would support the view that photographs” should be permitted.
He noted that some special accommodations will be provided to media outlets, including a spillover room with a live video feed of Trump’s arraignment and an expedited transcript of what went on inside the courtroom.
Trump is expected to plead not guilty during his appearance at the Wilkie D. Ferguson, Jr. US Courthouse in Miami on Tuesday 3 p.m. to charges that include willful retention of national defense information.
He faces a maximum of 400 years in prison if convicted on all charges.