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McMahon expects to see cameras in Kane courtrooms

Published: Thursday, Nov. 15, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said when cameras are allowed into the county’s courtrooms, the public might be surprised by what goes on – it likely won’t be nearly as exciting as most would think.

McMahon said many would find the process to be monotonous, but he understands there is value in it.

“I expect to see cameras in this building in the year 2013,” McMahon said at his monthly news conference, which is at his office in the Kane County Judicial Center. “I welcome that. It will give the public a new level of access.”

McMahon was part of a panel that met throughout the year after the Illinois Supreme Court in January approved a pilot program that allowed news organizations to use cameras and electronic news recordings in courtrooms. Each judicial circuit could create its own rules, and such a plan recently was completed in the 16th Judicial Circuit, which for now includes Kane, DeKalb and Kendall counties. Next month, DeKalb and Kendall will leave to form the new 23rd Judicial Circuit.

Judge Judith Brawka, chief judge of the 16th Circuit, said she expects the proposed program to be submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court for approval in December. If approved, she said media coverage would be available sometime in early 2013.

When she was elected as chief judge, Brawka said she was a big proponent for transparency, pointing out that she supported the efforts to allow cameras into the courtrooms.

McMahon has not resisted such efforts, although he has urged caution to make sure those involved – including witnesses and victims – are protected. He said it was important to remember that those involved in cases, some of which involve violent crimes, must go home and “live with the consequences.”

McMahon said he believed such important issues were addressed by the committee.

“I think that we can implement cameras in the courtroom in a way that respects the process,” he said.

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