On Jan. 9, Chief Justice for Administration and Management Robert A. Mulligan issued a new policy on clothing, cameras and cellular telephones in the courts aimed at curbing witness intimidation in criminal cases. The move was made in response to the spread of T-shirts and other clothing bearing the message, "stop snitching" and other attempts to persuade witnesses to remain silent rather than help authorities.
According to the policy, which became effective Jan. 10:
- Any person wearing an item of clothing which bears the words: "no snitchin(g)" or "stop snitchin(g)" shall not be allowed entry to a courthouse. Any person found in a courthouse wearing clothing bearing those words shall be removed from the courthouse.
- No person, except those employed by the news media and covering the court consistent with S.J.C. Rule 1:19 shall bring a camera, camera recording device or tape recorder into a courthouse.
- Each person with a cellular telephone shall ensure that the cellular telephone is turned off and stowed out of sight before entering a courtroom. Cellular telephones shall not be taken out or used in a courtroom whether or not the court is in session in that courtroom. As to those cellular telephones which also have a camera or a video camera capacity, the camera and/or video camera shall not be operated inside a courthouse.
- Nothing in this policy precludes a first justice or a presiding judge from imposing a more restrictive policy for a courthouse/courtroom. This policy is effective immediately.