Electronics ban at courthouse starts Tuesday

URBANA — Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh wants to remind people visiting the courthouse in downtown Urbana that a ban on electronics starts Tuesday.

In mid-July, the Illinois Supreme Court approved a rule that instructs jurors not to engage in Internet research or outside electronic communication while a trial is going on.

To make sure no one runs afoul of the rule, Presiding Judge Tom Difanis issued an order expanding the ban on cellphones that has been in place for five years to include any kind of electronic device like an iPad or an electronic tablet.

Walsh said he's heard no feedback whatsoever since the order was publicized a month ago.

The latest batch of summonses that went out to jurors contained information about the ban, said Difanis.

Walsh said if someone forgets or doesn't know about the ban, court security officers will tell them they need to take the device back to the car or give it to someone else to hold.

"If that's absolutely impossible or they have to be in court, we'll make some other arrangements," said Walsh, who wants to avoid having to store devices.

The rule does not apply to reporters, courthouse employees, police or lawyers.

Walsh said there is one notable exception.

"If you're getting married at the courthouse, we allow people to bring in cameras for their ceremonies," he said.

Signs warning of the ban are prominently displayed outside the courthouse and have been there about a month.

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