"Cameras and microphones in trial courtrooms have now expanded to one-quarter of
the counties in Illinois," Kilbride said. "This pilot project gives a real
opportunity for citizens to see on their local newscasts how the judicial system
works in Illinois.
"While participation continues to increase, 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."
The order is effective immediately.
Former Chief Judge Gregory McClintock, who retired from the bench earlier
this month, made the initial application to participate in the pilot project.
Stewart, who succeeded McClintock as chief judge, affirmed the circuit's
The 9th Circuit is comprised of Fulton, Hancock, Henderson, Knox, McDonough
and Warren counties, but for now Stewart asked that the experimental program be
implemented only in Knox County as a model before the project is expanded to
other counties in the circuit.
"Our judges in Knox County are eager to implement the Supreme Court policy on
extended media coverage," Stewart said. "We look forward to having cameras and
microphones in the courtroom so that residents will be able to see our judicial
system in action, instead of relying on the 'reality-TV' type of shows that do
not accurately portray how the justice system works."
The Supreme Court order approving the project in the 9th Circuit requires
that a judge presiding over a proceeding in which cameras or audio are allowed
must file a report with the chief judge of the circuit, the chief justice and
the Supreme Court justice in the district where the circuit is located.
Kilbride announced on Jan. 24 the Supreme Court's approval of an experimental
program to allow news media cameras and audio in trial courtrooms.
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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 and his fellow justices took 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 new policy and cameras have
been allowed in several proceedings there, including through the
conclusion of the murder trial of Nicholas Sheley in late September.
Knox County in the 9th Judicial Circuit joins McLean County in
the 11th Judicial Circuit; 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 Supreme Court.
[Text from file received from the
Illinois Supreme Court]