Committee works to finalize courtroom camera rules for 16th Circuit
By Jenette Sturges firstname.lastname@example.org October 25, 2012 5:32PM
Updated: November 27, 2012 10:57AM
A committee studying the use of cameras in 16th Judicial Circuit courtrooms has just about settled on a policy for how and when cameras and recording devices could be used during court proceedings.
In January, the Illinois Supreme Court announced it would consider applications to allow cameras in courtrooms. The public is currently allowed into criminal and civil county courtrooms, but video cameras, still cameras and audio recording devices are not.
Members of the 16th Circuit’s Media Committee — which has 13 members representing the state’s attorneys, public defenders, trial court judges and public attorneys — this week agreed that:
Once a media outlet has requested to cover a particular trial, witnesses will receive a notice informing them of the request and of their right to object to being recorded. Witnesses will be asked to fill out a form formalizing their request, and the trial judge will make a final determination on whether their testimony will be recorded.
Attorneys will be responsible for informing any witnesses they call about the recording requests and their right to object.
Beyond such details, panel members said their hands were largely tied by the Illinois Supreme Court on how the policy should look.
Other courts in the state already have new camera policies in place, and panel members said they planned to observe a trial about to commence in Whiteside County to assess how the cameras work in trials and whether they create distractions or otherwise interfere with proceedings.
But Kendall County Judge Timothy McCann said getting the policy completed this week was a matter of urgency in light of 16th Circuit Chief Judge Robert Spence’s recent appointment to the Illinois Supreme Court.
“In speaking with Judge Spence, his expectation was that we could move this along to him, if not today, very shortly after today, and he was going to issue the request for media coverage as quickly as possible ... . He was hoping to have this up and running by mid-November,” McCann said.
The panel will look over the camera policy one final time by email, then forward the proposed rules to Spence by the end of the week.