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Mirkarimi Media Blitz Prompts Ban On Cameras In SF Courthouse Hallways

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) - San Francisco Superior Court Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein issued a standing order Thursday prohibiting the use of cameras and/or electronic recording devices in the hallways and other areas of the fourth floor of the Civic Center Courthouse.

Thr order, which went into effect immediately and will remain indefinitely, does not restrict the media's right under state law to request to film open courtroom proceedings on the fourth floor of the courthouse, located at 400 McAllister St.

Media equipment, including tape recorders, video and still cameras, cellphone cameras and other recording devices, may now only be used in designated media areas in the courthouse, according to the order.

Those areas are located on the south side of the building adjacent to the women's restrooms on the second, third, fifth and sixth floors.

Violation of the order may result in the confiscation of the electronic devices and a citation for contempt of court.

The order states that the new procedures were developed "to protect the privacy interests of children, litigants, and others who may be attending dependency hearings" and "to ensure the efficient, safe and effective functioning of the Court."

San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi is seeking in a hearing on the fourth floor of the courthouse Friday afternoon to have a stay-away order modified in connection with his domestic violence case. The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Department 404.

Court spokeswoman Ann Donlan said the order was issued Thursday because of "anticipated concern over high-profile cases like the Mirkarimi case" and "past problems" at the courthouse.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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