Video, still cameras to be allowed in Illinois trial courts

Staff Report

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Supreme Court announced Jan. 25 it will begin allowing video and still cameras in some trial court proceedings. The announcement was made by Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride and was heralded by the Illinois Press Association (IPA) as a move that will allow more openness and transparency in the judicial branch of government.

Allowance for cameras in all courtrooms is something that the Illinois Press Association has been seeking for many years,” said Dennis DeRossett, executive director of the IPA. “Illinois already allows cameras at the Appellate and Supreme Court level. So, it only makes sense that trial courts be included.”

The new policy is a pilot program subject to review. It is up to the chief judge in each of the 23 circuits to decide whether to implement the program. The policy will allow for up to two video cameras and two still cameras in a courtroom at the same time.

Cameras would not be allowed in juvenile, divorce, adoption, child custody and evidence suppression cases, according to news reports.

Victims of violent crimes, police informants and relocated witnesses also could request they not be photographed, according to the new policy.

DeRossett said: “We applaud Justice Kilbride and the Illinois Supreme Court for taking this step toward greater transparency. We are especially encouraged by comments that Justice Kilbride made to a reporter about how the public eye acts as ‘a check in the balance of power.’”

DeRossett added that greater openness and transparency is the philosophy behind two pieces of new legislation recently introduced that would clarify the availability of search warrants and to relax the state’s eavesdropping law to allow the videotaping of law enforcement officers as they perform their public duty.

The IPA, located in Springfield, represents the interest of more than 480 daily and weekly newspaper members. The Rock River Times is a member of the association.

From the Jan. 25-31, 2012, issue

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