Information for Journalists

Click here for information on USA v. Balwani.

Information on Observing Court Hearings During COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

In-person hearings: please review the court’s safety protocols before visiting the courthouse

Virtual hearings: please review the court’s guidance on observing hearings held by videoconference.


All journalists are asked to review the important information on this page.


  • The court is committed to facilitating access to court dockets, documents and proceedings for journalists.
  • Neither the court’s public information staff nor individual judges will comment on individual cases. Such inquiries should be directed to attorneys in the case. Attorneys are listed on the case docket.
  • The court no longer issues news releases containing court-related news; rather, court news is posted in the “Notices” section of the court’s homepage.
  • Journalists are expected to learn and abide by the court’s policies on contacting the court and on the use of electronic devices in the courthouse, available on this page.

Contacting the Court

Journalists should not contact the assigned judge’s courtroom deputy, docket clerk or chambers directly for any reason. A wealth of information is available on the court’s website and journalists are expected to make their best efforts to obtain answers to their questions by reviewing the pertinent web pages.

Journalists should contact the Media Liaison with all other questions concerning court proceedings and documents and interview requests for judges.  Email is the preferred method of contact.

Court Rules Affecting The Media

The court has strict rules governing the use of electronic devices in the courthouse, photography and audio and video recording.  All journalists planning to cover a proceeding in this court are expected to review these rules. View more about court rules affecting the media.

Resources for Journalists

Media FAQs

How can I find documents and other information in a particular case?

If you just need a single document or docket sheet, you may request it from the Media Liaison. The best way to do so is by email. Include the case number and/or case name, and the date the document was filed. If you do not have this information, call the Media Liaison for assistance.

For longer-term access to a case, you should register for PACER and CM/ECF access and sign up to receive Notifications of Electronic Filing (NEFs) for the case(s) you are following. View detailed information about registering.

Reasoned opinions are also available free of charge under the E-Government Act.  

I'm planning to attend a high-profile hearing. Do I need to do anything special to be sure I get a seat?

All proceedings are open to members of the public and the media. In cases in which there is a great deal of public and media interest, special seating arrangements may be required and overflow seating with a live audio-video feed may be offered. You may enter the building as early as it opens to the public and wait outside the courtroom to assure a spot. Check the court’s website for further information regarding the specific case or contact the court’s Media Liaison (415-522-4051).

I've heard there is a hearing on a particular date and time. How can I confirm that it's still on calendar?

If you know the name of the judge, open and view the judge’s current calendar. If you do not see the proceeding you are looking for at the time you thought it would be held, use CTRL+F (CMD+F on Mac) to search all scheduled hearings on the judge’s calendar. Use the last 4 digits of the case number or a unique part of the case name as search terms.

TIP: the letters at the end of the case number are the judge’s initials. Search for these initials on the list of judges’ calendars to identify the judge in the case, then open that judge’s calendar.

Where can I get general information about federal courts?

The United States District Court for the Northern District of California is one of 92 federal courts in the United States and is completely separate and distinct from courts in the state court system.For more information about federal judges, juries and the federal court system, the following resources may be helpful:

  1. The Frequently Asked Questions section of the United States Courts website (…).
  2. A Journalist’s Guide to the Federal Courts (…) (Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts)
  3. The Federal Judicial Center website (…).

May I attend a proceeding that is held telephonically?

If telephonic hearings or conferences are scheduled, the court will advise attendees accordingly. Telephonic conferences held in chambers are not open to the public or media. As with all other proceedings in this Court, audio recording is prohibited. View Court Rules Affecting the Media.

Can I sign up to receive email bulletins about the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California?

The Court maintains several listserv email lists. The emails cover topics such as new judges, changes to the court rules, new forms, and the like. They do not address individual cases in any way. These are self-subscribed and unsubscribed. View details and instructions.

Can I get a booking photo/"mug shot" of an arrested individual?

The United States Marshals Service does not provide access to booking photos or mug shots.

Can I arrange to bring TV cameras into the courtroom to film a court proceeding?

No. Under no circumstances are outside camera crews allowed to record proceedings in this court. The only way to obtain video footage of a particular proceeding is to file a request for video recording under the Cameras in the Courtroom Project. Important: such recording requests only take a few minutes, but they must be completed weeks in advance of the proceeding. Visit the Project web page for details.

During high-profile proceedings in which the Media Center in the San Francisco Courthouse is open, camera crews may bring their equipment into the Media Center while the proceeding is in progress. No recording or photography of the live feed is allowed.