Court documents are not covered by the California Public Records Act or the Federal Freedom of Information Act, but the court's policy is to ensure access to all court records that are not confidential. Media and members of the public can search the Court Index to locate case numbers and can refer to the information available on the Accessing Court Records page for more on how to view court files or request copies of documents in court files.
The goal of the Public Affairs and Community Outreach department is to provide information on a timely basis, ensure adequate access to public court proceedings, and educate the community about the court and justice system.
Information for Media
Cameras in the Courtroom
California law allows video and audio recording or photography in non-confidential court proceedings in the Superior Court if permitted by the judicial officer handling the case. Each judge or commissioner has discretion whether to allow a camera in his or her courtroom.
Rule 1.150 relates to media coverage of courtroom proceedings. “Media coverage” means any photographing, recording, or broadcasting of court proceedings by the media using television, radio, photographic, or recording equipment. “Media” or “media agency” means any person or organization engaging in news gathering or reporting and includes any newspaper, radio or television station or network, news service, magazine, trade paper, in-house publication, professional journal, or other news-reporting or news-gathering agency.
To File a Camera in the Courtroom Request:
- Complete the Media Request form and Proposed Order form
Form MC-500 Media Request to Photograph, Record, or Broadcast – fill out this form completely
Form MC-510 Order on Media Request to Permit Coverage – fill out only the top portion of the form (media outlet information, contact information and case information), the judicial officer presiding over the hearing will fill out the rest of the form with their decision and any restrictions to be imposed on the coverage.
- Present completed forms to the courtroom where the proceeding will be held and/or contact the Public Affairs Office for assistance with submitting the forms.
Refer to Department Assignments for judge names and courtrooms. Rule 1.150 does call for the forms to be submitted at least five court days before the portion of the proceeding to be covered unless good cause is shown. Judicial officers may allow for exceptions to the five-day notice requirement; however, it is recommended to present the forms in a timely fashion as they can be denied on that timing alone.
- The judicial officer presiding over the case will decide whether to allow cameras in the courtroom.
The judge ruling on the request to permit media coverage is not required to make findings or a statement of decision. They may decide in advance of the hearing or they may wait to address the request on the record on the day of the hearing, in which case requesting media will want to be standing by and ready to set up equipment quickly, if approved.
The Judicial Council of California provides additional statewide information on Cameras in the Courtroom and the California Rule of Court, Rule 1.150 lists all requirements. Each media agency is responsible for ensuring that all its media personnel who cover the court proceeding know and follow the provisions of the court order and this rule.
Filming at the Courthouses (Hallway Policy)
As ordered in General Order 010124-02 (Court Media/Hallway Policy), absent written judicial authorization, there shall be no photographing, filming, recording, or broadcasting by media, attorneys or members of the general public within any of the San Diego Superior Court courthouse facilities – for example, no filming in lobbies, hallways, stairs, business offices, etc. Designated media areas are listed in the policy to allow for attorneys to speak to media immediately following a hearing in the hallway, however, cameras must be in those designated areas, pointing toward the walls, and not impeding the flow of traffic.
Requests to film specific courtroom proceedings can follow the Cameras in the Courtroom process listed above. Media requests to film in unoccupied courtrooms or other areas of the courthouses must be made in advance to the Public Affairs Office.
Juvenile Court Media Access
Many juvenile court proceedings are confidential and not open to the public. Please refer to the Media and the Juvenile Court page for detailed information and a full media policy.
Media and members of the public can search the Court Index to locate case numbers and refer to the information available on the Accessing Court Records page for more on how to view court files or request copies of documents in court files.
The San Diego Superior Court offers a Media Access Portal ($500/year fee for access) which shows non-confidential unlimited civil complaints upon electronic filing by a litigant. Once complaints have been formally accepted by the court, documents can be accessed at the per page rate on the Register of Actions.
Public Affairs Office