Illinois Allows Cameras in Trial Courts on Trial Basis

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The Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday it will allow cameras in trial courts, at least on a trial basis.

The pilot project, effective immediately, authorizes coverage in circuit courts that have applied for approval from the Illinois Supreme Court. See the order (PDF).

“This is another step to bring more transparency and more accountability to the Illinois court system,” Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride said in a statement (PDF). “The provisions of this new policy keep discretion in the chief circuit judge and the trial judge to assure that a fair and impartial trial is not compromised, yet affords a closer look at the workings of our court system to the public through the eyes of the electronic news media and news photographers.”

NBC Chicago reports that before Tuesday, Illinois was one of only 14 states that either didn’t allow cameras in trial courts or allowed them on a very restrictive basis. Illinois has allowed cameras in the appellate and supreme courts since 1983.

The order lists rules for “extended media coverage,” and notes, among other things, that there should be no videotaping of testimony by a sexual assault victim unless the testifying victim consents.

No video coverage will be permitted of jury selection, of jurors at all, or of juveniles, adoption, child custody, evidence suppression or trade secret cases.

Kilbride notes in his statement that the rule, while unique to Illinois, were modeled after Iowa’s Rules for Expanded Media Coverage.

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