[September 17, 2013]CHICAGO -- Chief Justice Thomas
L. Kilbride of the Illinois Supreme Court and Chief Judge Dan L.
Flannell of the 6th Judicial Circuit announced on Friday that news
cameras will be allowed in trial courts in six additional Illinois
The 6th Judicial Circuit is comprised of Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas,
Macon, Moultrie and Piatt counties in east-central Illinois. With
this announcement, total participation in the pilot project rises to
35 counties within 13 judicial circuits.
"Cameras and microphones
in the courtroom now reach citizens in more than one-half of the
judicial circuits and one-third of the counties in Illinois,"
Kilbride said. "Chief Judge Flannell's application and approval by
the Supreme Court to allow cameras in the trial courtrooms will
bring more geographical diversity to the pilot project.
"The 6th Circuit provides a host of smaller newspaper and radio
stations with the opportunity to provide their readers and listeners
with picture and audio coverage as well as the local network
affiliates and public radio stations that also cover our state's
Approval of the 6th Circuit expands the pilot project in the 4th
Judicial District, where cameras were approved in McLean County in
the 11th Circuit in December 2012.
"I am pleased to see the 6th Circuit participate in the pilot
project," said Justice Rita B. Garman, who will become the next
chief justice and whose 4th Judicial District includes the circuit.
"Judge Flannell and the members of the Extended Media Committee have
worked diligently in researching and discussing how the judges in
the circuit will balance the judge's primary role in the
administration of justice with the media's role to inform the
Flannell thanked the Supreme Court for its approval and said that
the judges in the 6th Circuit are committed to the success of the
"On behalf of the judges of the 6th Judicial Circuit, I wish to
extend our appreciation to the Supreme Court for its prompt
consideration and approval of our application for inclusion within
the extended media coverage pilot program," Flannell said. "The
members of the Extended Media Committee, chaired by Champaign County
Presiding Judge Thomas J. Difanis, did an admirable job in compiling
information from other jurisdictions already in the pilot program,
which in turn allowed the circuit judges to make a prompt and
informed decision to seek approval from the Supreme Court.
"We look forward to joining other circuits around the state in
expanding the public's opportunity to more easily access and
understand the operations of the judicial branch of our state's
While serving as chair of the media committee, Difanis said that
judges were given opportunities to express their opinions regarding
the pilot project and its potential effect in the six-county
"The vote was quite overwhelming to approve application for the
extended media coverage, which says a lot for the judges in this
circuit," Difanis said. "There has been very little concern about
implementation, and we are looking forward to see how this works
The Supreme Court order approving the 6th 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 judicial district
where the circuit is located.
In January 2012, the Supreme Court announced approval of a pilot
project to allow news media cameras and audio in trial courtrooms in
Illinois. Since then, 29 counties in 12 judicial circuits across
Illinois have been participating in the pilot program, opening the
trial courtrooms to news photographers and electronic news media to
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 colleagues on the court took another look.
Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt counties in
the 6th Judicial Circuit join the following counties where extended
media coverage was approved by the Supreme Court: Kane County in the
16th Circuit; Lake County in the 19th Judicial Circuit; DeKalb and
Kendall counties in the 23rd Judicial Circuit; Knox County in the
9th Judicial Circuit; 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.