After recordings of the remote audio from Britney Spears blistering 24-minute statement during her June 23 conservatorship hearing began circulating widely over the web, Los Angeles County courts have decided to end their remote audio attendance program completely. Despite warnings on the web page of the audio broadcast, which was open only to involved parties and the media, and from Judge Brenda Penny, recordings were readily available just minutes after her statement was broadcast; Penny shut down the remote audio shortly after Spears had made her statement.
No recordings of court hearings are allowed without written advance permission from the judge, according to state and local policies. The 2019 California Rules of Court read: “Any violation of this rule or an order made under this rule is an unlawful interference with the proceedings of the court and may be the basis for an order terminating media coverage, a citation for contempt of court, or an order imposing monetary or other sanctions as provided by law.”
Asked for comment, L.A. County Superior Court Communications Director Ann E. Donlan told the Hollywood Reporter: “Parties who publish unauthorized recordings of court proceedings in violation of a court order are subject to sanctions and other potential liability pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 1209 and other applicable law.”
The day after the hearing, the court announced that the program would be shut down on Monday of this week.
“Effective June 28, the Court will no longer offer the Remote Audio Attendance Program (RAAP) to listen remotely to courtroom proceedings,” it reads. “The Court implemented this temporary program during the pandemic recognizing there may be abuses of the Court’s orders prohibiting recording, filming, and distribution of proceedings. Widespread breaches by the public in a recent court proceeding highlighted the need to return to in person, open courtroom proceedings, which is a welcome development.”