Illinois Makes Cameras-In-Court Policy Permanent

Illinois Supreme Court Building

Illinois Supreme Court Building in Springfield.

Alan Scott Walker/Wikipedia

The Illinois Supreme Court is making television and radio coverage a permanent part of the Illinois judicial system.

Over the past four years, an increasing number of courthouses across Illinois have allowed electronic media on a trial basis.

Chief Justice Rita Garman says making it permanent makes the legal system more transparent.

“People do tend to get their information and their view of the courts by watching television,” said Garman. “So this is an opportunity to see how the courts actually work, and to break down any mystery that’s out there."

Even in areas that allow TV coverage, individual judges can prohibit cameras on a case-by-case basis.

Cameras were first allowed as an experiment four years ago. The courthouse in Rockford was among the early adopters.

That’s where Chief Judge Joe McGraw handles criminal cases. He's had first-hand experience with T-V coverage.

"I think knowing the camera is there, you sit up straighter, you speak more clearly,” said McGraw. “You do a better job explaining why you’re doing what you’re doing. And you should be doing that anyway, but I think just having that camera present there … makes all of us do just a little better job."

Over the last four years, the Illinois Supreme Court has gradually allowed cameras into 15 of the state's 24 jurisdictions, including the 6th Judicial Circuit, which covers Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt Counties ---- and in McLean County in the 11th Judicial Circuit.

Chief Justice Rita Garman says she expects broadcast coverage will eventually spread statewide.

Story source: Illinois Public Radio