McLean becomes the 24th county to participate in the pilot project allowing
cameras in trial courtrooms.
"I am pleased that Chief Judge Robb has applied
and my colleagues on the Supreme Court have approved the 11th Circuit to take
part in the project," said Kilbride. "The chief judge has told me that lawyers,
judges and media have all met in preparation to implement the project and that
those discussions have been very positive.
"Cameras and microphones in the courtroom have now expanded to nearly
one-quarter of the counties in Illinois. With the continued increase in
participation, the highest priority of the pilot project remains to balance
carefully greater openness and access to our courts with dignity for the process
and the guaranteed rights of all to a fair trial."
McLean County is the first county in central Illinois to participate in the
"It is a step forward that Chief Judge Robb and the judges in the 11th
Circuit have embraced the pilot project," said Justice Rita B. Garman, whose 4th
Judicial District includes the circuit. "It gives another media market, this one
in central Illinois, the opportunity to give citizens a real glimpse of what
happens in our courtrooms, rather than some fictionalized account on TV.
"The Supreme Court's policy regarding cameras in the courtroom is designed to
carefully balance a defendant's right to a fair trial with the important role of
the media to inform the public. I am confident that the preparations made by
Judge Robb and her colleagues will ensure that both of these goals are well
The order is effective immediately.
The 11th Circuit is comprised of Ford, Livingston, McLean and Woodford
counties, but for now Robb asked that the experimental program proceed only in
McLean County to provide a model before it is expanded to other courtrooms in
After several consultations with area media, Robb also asked that one
courtroom in McLean County be designated as the courtroom where audio and video
recording would occur under the Supreme Court's pilot project. Still photography
would be allowed in all McLean County courtrooms.
Robb has taken careful steps in trying to ensure that the transition to
allowing cameras in McLean County will go smoothly.
[to top of second column]
"A subcommittee of judges in the 11th Circuit has met on several occasions
with media representatives and the local bar to discuss extended media coverage
in the circuit courts," she said. "We have had very positive discussions and are
looking forward to serving as a pilot in central Illinois and sharing our
experiences with the court."
The Supreme Court order approving the project in the 11th Circuit
requires that a judge presiding over a proceeding in which cameras
or audio are allowed file a report with the chief judge of the
circuit, the chief justice and with Garman.
Kilbride announced on Jan. 24 the Supreme Court's approval of an
experimental program to allow news media cameras and audio in trial
courtrooms upon the request of the chief judge of the circuit.
The Supreme Court has allowed cameras to broadcast its own oral
arguments and those of the Illinois Appellate Court since 1983. At
that time, however, the court specifically rejected allowing news
cameras during trial proceedings, and the issue made little headway
until Kilbride asked his fellow justices to take another look.
The 14th Judicial Circuit in northwestern Illinois was the first
to be approved for cameras. Chief Judge Jeffrey W. O'Connor of the
14th Circuit already has implemented a policy, and cameras have been
allowed in several proceedings there, including the murder trial of
Nicholas Sheley in late September.
McLean County in the 11th Judicial Circuit joins DuPage County in
the 18th Judicial Circuit; Alexander, Jackson, Johnson, Massac,
Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union and Williamson counties in the 1st
Judicial Circuit; Boone and Winnebago counties in the 17th Judicial
Circuit; Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle and Stephenson counties in
the 15th Judicial Circuit; Madison County in the 3rd Judicial
Circuit; Kankakee County in the 21st Judicial Circuit; and Henry,
Mercer, Rock Island and Whiteside counties in the 14th Judicial
Circuit, where extended media coverage was approved earlier by the
[Text from file received from the
Illinois Supreme Court]