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 pilot project.
"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 served."
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 the circuit.
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
Robb has taken careful steps in trying to ensure that the
transition to allowing cameras in McLean County will go smoothly.
"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
[to top of second column]
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]