Cameras in the Courtroom Pilot Program Comes to Illinois

By: Megan Dwyer
By: Megan Dwyer

ROCKFORD (WIFR) -- A new order handed down by the Illinois Supreme Court could turn local TV into Court TV when it comes to the most interesting cases.

Chief Judge Joe McGraw says he hasn't made a decision yet for Boone and Winnebago Counties, but local attorneys say they're all for extending media coverage of court cases. Judges in the 15th Circuit, which includes Stephenson, Joe Daviess, Ogle, Lee and Carroll Counties, say they do plan to have cameras.

Until today Illinois was one of only 14states that doesn’t allow cameras in courtrooms. The new program is just an experiment.

Circuit Courts must choose to allow cameras and tape recorders. If the Illinois Supreme Court okays it, then established media outlets can apply. Bloggers and Internet journalists are still not allowed to electronically record court proceedings. Only two cameras can be inside a courtroom at a time. Footage of jurors and certain types of cases, like divorce, will not be allowed.

The new policy doesn't mention the use of cell phones, but the intent is that only professional equipment should be used. So you can't snap a photo of someone on your cell phone or hit the record button while you're in court.

Do you think cameras should be allowed in local courtrooms?

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  • by Leslie Location: rockford on Feb 9, 2012 at 12:04 PM
    Wanda, give us a break! Like the police and jail do not have current photos of defendants already???? Cameras will just be used against defendants; not for any good purpose. Of course, judges could no longer sleep on the bench during trial, roll their eyes, and the public can see just how stupid some of the big prosecution cases are that the current SA office wastes our money on and then loses. You want to fight crime in Rockford; then improve the economic situation of the west side of town!!
  • by Wanda on Jan 25, 2012 at 08:53 AM
    By the ever increasing volume of crime in this city, Rockford should be first in line for cameras in the court room. Not necessarily to air on court TV or anything, but simply as a means of protection and identification in situations that get out of hand while court is in session. I remember a time when a few criminals actually escaped from court and were able to make it out onto the street during court proceedings. When things like that happen, law enforcement can get that footage and release it immediately in an effort to capture a fugitive quickly.
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