Group recommends easing bans on cellphones in courts

BOSTON (AP) — A report recommends that bans on cellphone use at dozens of Massachusetts courthouses be phased out, with new security measures to prevent abuse.

A working group formed last year by trial court leaders concluded in its report released on Wednesday that cellphone bans impose “unacceptable hardships” on certain individuals, particularly those who are representing themselves in court.

Current policy generally allows cellphones in courthouses so long as they’re turned off or silenced inside courtrooms. But the report identified 56 courts that prohibit them, with exceptions for court employees and attorneys, citing risks the phones could be used to photograph or intimidate victims, witnesses or jurors.

The working group says those courts should consider alternatives to outright bans, such as magnetically locked security pouches designed to prevent unauthorized cellphone use.

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