Montrose likely to change rules for cameras

BY STACI WILSON

Montrose Borough Council is likely to change some of its recently adopted rules regarding the use of recording devices during meetings.

A preliminary injunction was filed Monday against the borough by Lisa Barr, a freelance journalist and media law professor.

Barr contended that the borough’s restrictions how cameras are to be operated and where the recording devices may be located would prevent reporters from being able to do their job.

As per the policy adopted Feb. 14 by the council, all video cameras had to be mounted on a tripod in the back of the room, remain stationary and be left unmanned.

An agreement reached Monday will serve to move council to change those rules.

A hearing, scheduled for Monday morning, Feb. 27, in front of Susquehanna County President Judge Kenneth Seamans, never transpired.

Instead, Barr’s attorney, Deborah Barr, and the borough’s lawyer, Patrick Boland, were called into the judge’s chambers.

Boland then met with Council President Thomas LaMont and Councilman Craig Reimel who were both present in the courtroom.

After meeting for about one hour, the borough stipulated to and agreed that equipment mounted on a tripod shall remain behind the last row of chairs.

Those with handheld or shoulder mounted video equipment will be limited to an L-shaped area behind the back row of chairs and up the aisle parallel to the first row of chairs.

Small handheld audio and camera equipment and any other recording devices must be visible and are now allowed to be in the chairs.

Anyone seated in the public area and videotaping must remain seated. If a standing shot is desired by the photographer, the person must be located within the defined ‘L.”

The existing rules of conduct will remain in effect until and unless new rules of conduct are passed by council at its March 5 meeting.

Those revised rules – if adopted by the council – will be provided to Barr within three business days.

If the agreed upon changes are made, Barr will withdraw her claim, with prejudice.

According to the court agreement, if the new rules of conduct are passed at the March 5 meeting, they will take effect immediately.