New Rule Will Allow the Public to Bring Cell Phones to Court

January 9, 2020

Cell phones in court aren’t just for lawyers anymore.

Beginning May 1, 2020, the public will be allowed to bring cell phones and other personal electronic devices (such as a tablet or laptop) into courthouses and courtrooms. Users will be able to retrieve or store information, access the internet, send/receive text messages (silently), and reproduce court documents (as long as it leaves no marks and does not unreasonably interfere with the operation of the clerk’s office).

The Michigan Supreme Court order amends MCR 8.115, which restricted such use (rules regarding cell phone use varied widely from court to court). The new rule proposal was developed by the State Planning Body and supported by the State Bar. The objective was to create consistency with respect to cell phone use, and broaden litigants' ability to use cell phones and portable electronic devices to support their cases in court.

The amended rule does include restrictions to maintain security and prevent disruption. For example, devices must be silenced in the courtroom and cannot be used to make or receive calls while court is in session.

Read the full text of the amended rule.