Cell Phones in Maryland Courthouses

cell phones maryland courthousesThe Maryland Court of Appeals has signed off on some modifications to the Maryland Rules. Of particular interest to both lawyers and clients is new Maryland Rule 16-110. This recent rule addresses the crucial issue of our day of whether you can bring a cell phone into court in Maryland. The short answer is yes. The long answer can be found here on page 18.

The rule also addresses whether jurors may bring electronic devices into the jury deliberation room. The concern is whether the jurors use Google to find information to decide the case or give a shout out to friends on Twitter or Facebook about the case during deliberations. The recent rule is clear that jurors may not take cell phones or other electronic devices into the room during deliberations.

I also thought it was interesting that the new rule states that there is no liability to security or court personnel who lose or damage someone’s phone, presumably after the phone is confiscated. It is a minor thing and I doubt that many phones will be lost or damaged under these circumstances. But, as a matter of principle and policy, I wonder if the Maryland Rules should limit tort liability. My view is that while the Maryland high court may rule the roost of what goes on in Maryland courtrooms, courthouses are not sovereign and tort immunities should not be granted so casually.

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