Smart phones have taken a big bite out of the digital camera industry's pie.

Manufacturers last year shipped half as many units as they did at their peak just three years earlier, and their future isn't bright, according to Tech Times.

Not exactly a surprise.

Why lug around a camera when your ever-present cellphone takes pictures that are just as good or better?

This development recently helped focus attention on inconsistent courtroom policies in York County and across the state.

Pennsylvania bans cameras inside any courtroom, with only rare exceptions, but doesn't take a position on cellphones in court.

That's a decision for each county to make, according to a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Office of Court Administration.

The York County Judicial Center prohibits cellphones and other electronics able to record images or sounds — but the court administrator lets the county's 19 district judges make their own rules for such devices in their courtrooms.

Thomas Roberts, the county's deputy court administrator, said there are no plans to tighten up the policy — despite recent allegations a teen secretly used a cellphone during a preliminary hearing to photograph a confidential police informant, who police say became a target in a murder-for-hire plot.

District Judge Richard Martin II, who was on the bench for the hearing, said he didn't know the images were being taken.


It wasn't illegal for 18-year-old Toby Allen Hess to bring his phone into court, but he's charged with intimidation of a witness for using it to surreptitiously photograph the informant.

We don't know if an across-the-board ban on all recording devices would have prevented this incident. We suspect if someone is inclined go after a witness, they'll find a way.

After all, except in juvenile cases, all court proceedings in America are held in public, and anyone is allowed to watch firsthand the administration of justice. Court records are public documents.

While we happen to believe Pennsylvania justice should be more transparent than it is now, the state Supreme Court, which creates rules for the state's court system, has decided otherwise.

It should set clear rules, however.

If the Supreme Court doesn't want proceedings photographed, it should ban all recording devices — including cellphones — from courtrooms across the state.

And that should include district judges' courtrooms, where every Pennsylvania criminal case begins.