Monday, July 3, 2017

NJAC 1:1-14.1 Public hearings; records as public; sealing a record; media coverage

1:1-14.1 Public hearings; records as public; sealing a record; media coverage 

   (a) All evidentiary hearings, proceedings on motions and other applications shall be conducted as public hearings unless otherwise provided by statute, rule or regulation, or on order of a judge for good cause shown. Prehearing conferences and informal discussions immediately preceding the hearing or during the hearing to facilitate the orderly and expeditious conduct of the case may, at the judge's discretion, be conducted in public or in closed session and may or may not be recorded. Mediations and settlement conferences shall be held in closed session but may be recorded. All other proceedings in the presence of a judge shall be recorded verbatim either by a stenographic reporter or by sound recording devices. All discussions off the record, no matter how brief, except settlement discussions and mediations, shall be summarized generally for the record. The record of all hearings shall be open to public inspection, but the judge may, for good cause shown, order the sealing of the record or any part thereof.

(b) In considering whether to close a hearing and/or seal a record, the judge shall consider the requirements of due process of law, other constitutional and statutory standards and matters of public policy. The judge shall consider the need to protect against unwarranted disclosure of sensitive financial information or trade secrets, to protect parties or witnesses from undue embarrassment or deprivations of privacy, or to promote or protect other equally important rights or interests.

(c) When sealing a record, the judge must specify the consequences of such an order to all material in the case file including any evidence, the stenographic notes or audiotapes and the initial decision. The treatment of testimony or exhibits shall be on such terms as are appropriate to balance public and private rights or interests and to preserve the record for purposes of review. The judge shall also indicate what safeguards shall be imposed upon the preparation and disclosure of any transcript of the proceedings.

(d) All public hearings may be filmed, photographed and recorded, subject to reasonable restrictions established by the judge to avoid disruption of the hearing process. The number of cameras and lights in the hearing room at any one time may be limited. Technical crews and equipment may be prohibited from moving except during recesses and after the proceedings are concluded for the day. To protect the attorney/client privilege and the effective right to counsel, there shall be no recording of conferences between attorneys and their clients or between counsel and the judge at the bench.

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