Cameras in the Courtroom

Virginia State Code Section 19.2-266 states: "A court may solely in its discretion permit the taking of photographs in the courtroom during the progress of judicial proceedings." The law allows for statewide access and requires cooperation and coordination between newspapers. The Virginia Press Association may designate one person to represent still photographers in each jurisdiction. The names of these coordinators shall be forwarded to the chief judge in the county or city in which the coverage is desired so that arrangements can be made for the pooling of equipment and personnel. Coordinators are the only persons authorized to speak for the media to the presiding judge concerning coverage of any judicial proceeding.

The guidelines have been in place since July 1, 1994.

Please remember that at all times, the presiding judge has the authority to prohibit, interrupt or terminate photographic coverage of judicial proceedings. Attorneys for litigants have the right at the beginning of any proceeding to object to photographic coverage. The presiding judge may prohibit or restrict coverage in any case for any reason as the judge deems appropriate.

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Papers Must Publish Fair Housing Notices

In 2003, 18 VAC 135-50-110 of the Virginia Administrative Code was modified to state that newspapers are required to publish a fair-housing publisher's notice. Previously, the notice was used at the newspaper's discretion.

Games of Chance and Advertising

In Virginia, games of chance are usually illegal. However, the ones that are permitted -- bingo games, raffles and, since 1993, duck races -- are strictly governed under 18.2-340 of the Code of Virginia. Their regulation is the responsibility of the state Department of Charitable Gaming.

Exemptions from Sales and Use Tax for Printing Free Newspapers

On May 22, 1989, Commissioner W.H. Forst issued a ruling stating that the 1983 law change would exempt the free-newspaper publisher from the sales tax.

State Police Press IDs

In cooperation with the Virginia State Police, Virginia Press Association provides identification credentials to journalists who are bona fide employees of Virginia newspapers.

VPA Execution Witness Pool Information

The Virginia Department of Corrections directed the Virginia Press Association to operate the pool to select the newspaper reporters allowed into the witness room during Virginia executions. 

Newspapers and the Law

Please remember that VPA provides these links for information purposes only. If you have specific questions, please consult your publication's attorney.