GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Guilford County Court System launched its electronics ban Monday, prohibiting most courthouse-goers in Greensboro and High Point from bringing cell phones, laptops and other devices through courthouse security.
Exemptions to the ban include authorized employees and lawyers, individuals with proof of a jury duty summons or individuals who have gained permission by a judge or trial administrator to use cell phones for evidence in court.
Trial court administrator Craig Turner explained, "The primary reason (for the ban) is because we had some incidents this past summer--people were taking unauthorized pictures within the courtroom of witnesses and jurors and transmitting that information out."
Turner said the county government, chief resident superior court judge and other court administrators have been discussing the plan over the course of the past year. He said since before Thanksgiving, trial administrators put up signs and issued notices, so as to alert the public to the ban. Regardless, one Guilford County constituent told WFMY News 2 Monday she witnessed individuals who clearly were not aware of, or had forgotten about, the new rule.
She said, "I saw a woman carrying a baby outside who was crying because she couldn't enter the courthouse with her cell phone. She was dropped off, and she was stuck in the rain. It was really sad to see--you know I'm just in here to pay a fee or whatever, but people need to be in their court date, and they can't get in there because they didn't know the ban was in effect."
Another man expressed support of the ban, explaining he has seen, firsthand, the distractions electronics create in the courtroom. Randy Cole said, "I've seen the noise going off with the ringing and the sound tones and stuff like that, and I'm trying to pay attention to the DA... That way, I don't miss anything important."
Turner said court administrators are working to install pay phones in courthouses, so as to help individuals who receive rides to/from court and do not have a car in which to store/access a cell phone.
For questions regarding special permission of cell phones in court, contact the Guilford County trial court administrative offices at 336-412-7900 or visitNCCourts.org and click on Guilford County.
Tune into WFMY News 2's Good Morning Show Tuesday, as WFMY News 2's Meghann Mollerus breaks down the logistics of the ban and shares viewer opinions on whether the ban is appropriate.
WFMY News 2