Knowles Bill to Punish Intimidating Camera Use in Courtrooms Goes to Governor
HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Jerry Knowles (R-Berks/Carbon/Schuylkill) to establish a penalty for the unlawful use of a camera, recording device or any other electronic device in a courthouse facility (House Bill 149) was unanimously advanced by the Pennsylvania House on Wednesday.

“The need for this legislation was actually brought to my attention by a judge who has experienced this type of intimidating behavior in his courtroom where spectators have incessantly used their cell phones and other electronic devices to take defamatory photos or videos of defendants or witnesses to post on social media,” said Knowles. “On the other side, I have heard about defendants or family members taking similar threatening photos or recordings of Children and Youth agency staffers in dependency and termination cases while standing in the hallway. What’s even more surprising is that existing law does not sufficiently address this very serious obstruction in the administration of justice.”

House Bill 149 would amend Pennsylvania’s Criminal Code (obstructing or impeding the administration of justice) to include “intentionally using a camera, recording device or any electronic device to record or photograph any person in any building housing a court.” The penalty would be a second-degree misdemeanor and would only apply if the use of the camera or other electronic device was intentional, and in violation of an express rule or order.

“The offense of witness intimidation generally requires some act in addition to the act of recording,” said Knowles. “In other words, law enforcement generally cannot act until after the harm has been done. Violation of procedural rules that are commonly in place to prohibit the use of cell phones and recording devices also generally do not carry a criminal penalty. If House Bill 149 becomes law, both of these flaws in the administration of justice would finally be taken care of.”

House Bill 149 is now on its way to the governor’s desk. For more information about this legislation, or any other legislative topic, contact Knowles’ district office in Tamaqua at 570-668-1240, or in Hamburg at 610-562-3411. Information can also be found online at or

Representative Jerry Knowles
124th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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