It didn’t take long for audio from Britney Spears’ June 23 Trusteeship hearing to circulate the Internet, despite a clear and categorical warning from LA County Judge Brenda Penny that the recording was not allowed. It remains to be seen whether the person or persons who did so will incur any sanction, but the court took another step in response: it completely shut down its audio helpline program.

Under California State and local court rules, no recording of court hearings is permitted (including by members of the press) without the judge’s prior permission in the form of a written order. . According to the California Rules of Court 2019, “Any violation of this rule or of an order made under this rule constitutes unlawful interference with court proceedings and may result in an order terminating coverage. media, a citation for contempt of court. , or an order imposing pecuniary or other penalties in accordance with the law.

When asked what the court’s general policy is for taking action if a proceeding is taped without permission, LA County Superior Court communications director Ann E. Donlan said only: “The parties Who publish unauthorized recordings of legal proceedings in violation of a court order are subject to penalties and other potential liabilities under Section 1209 of the California Code of Civil Procedure and other applicable laws. “

Penny, at the start of the hearing, not only reminded people listening to the policy against recording, but also cautioned against live tweets and told people in the courtroom to had to use pen and paper instead of a notebook for their notes. Still, audio of Spears’ testimony began to circulate just hours after the hearing, including in a YouTube post that has since been deleted due to a court copyright claim.

The next day, the court announced that as of Monday, the remote audio assistance program would be closed.

“As of June 28, the Court will no longer offer the Remote Audio Assistance Program (RAAP) to remotely listen to courtroom proceedings,” read the ad, which also details the cancellation of other COVID-19 protocols. “The Court implemented this temporary program during the pandemic, recognizing that there may be abuse of court orders prohibiting the recording, filming and distribution of proceedings. Widespread violations by the public in recent court proceedings have highlighted the need to return in person to open courtroom proceedings, which is a welcome development. “

The program, which was launched in January in response to the pandemic, marked a step towards better access to courts for the media. Even before COVID, cramped courtrooms and varying court preferences regarding the use of laptops for note-taking made coverage of proceedings logistically difficult. And, after OJ Simpson’s murder trial became an international television spectacle, courts have long been reluctant to allow even bona fide media to record.

Amid the pandemic, federal courts have also attempted to allow access to hearings via audio and video streams (although the U.S. 9th District Court of Appeals has been broadcasting hearings regularly for some time) . There is currently a bill in the US Senate, dubbed the Sunshine in the Courtroom Act of 2021, that would give federal judges broad discretion to authorize television or recording court proceedings. The bipartisan bill is being challenged by the Judicial Conference, the decision-making body of US courts, which argues that cameras have an intimidating and negative effect on litigants, witnesses and jurors.

During the June 23 hearing, as you can hear in the illicit audio, the artist said her guardianship was “abusive” and listed a series of complaints, including that she had no control over the drugs she had prescribed and that she couldn’t get someone. make a doctor’s appointment to have their IUD removed. On Tuesday, her father, Jamie Spears, filed two documents in response to the allegations. One is a petition asking Penny to “order an investigation into the issues and allegations” she has raised. The other is a response to a pending motion that would make Jodi Montgomery’s temporary role as Spears’ person curator a permanent role, which calls for an evidentiary hearing. Jamie Spears notes that he has had no contribution to his daughter’s medical care since 2019 and disputes the claim that she lacks the capacity to consent to medical treatment. He notes that Spears’ court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, said in the petition that his incapacity was determined by a court order in October 2014, but Jamie maintains that “there is no such conclusion, and there is no such order ”. (Read this dossier below.)

Penny signed an order on Wednesday that reflects her decision in November to install corporate trustee Bessemer Trust as co-custodian of the estate alongside Jamie Spears.

The next hearing is currently set for July 14. Unless the court policy is reversed, it will not be released. The Judicial Council, which is California’s policy-making body, says this is a local court decision and “we are not aware of any movement towards consistent audio or video streams. legal proceedings “.

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