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Cameras to be allowed in Kane County courtrooms by mid-June

GENEVA – Kane County's courtrooms soon will gain more visibility for certain trials, beginning in mid-June.

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court signed off on a set of policies and procedures crafted by the judges serving in Kane's courtrooms that would allow media organizations to request and win the ability to use cameras to cover local court proceedings.

"Our hope is introducing cameras will give citizens greater access to their courts, yet still preserve the dignity of the judicial process and the guaranteed right to fair trials," Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Kilbride said in a prepared statement. "We look forward to Kane County's results."

Kane County will become the 29th county in Illinois to enact policies permitting cameras in courtrooms under a pilot program launched last year by Kilbride and the Supreme Court. 

In more than a year since, cameras have been allowed into courtrooms for several trials, such as the DuPage County murder trial of Johnny Borizov earlier this month.

McHenry County Court officials have been moving slowly on cameras in courtrooms. So far, they held a panel discussion where most judges and speakers were extremely hesitant about allowing cameras in courtrooms as most collar counties have done or are in the process of doing.

In addition to DuPage County, cameras are now allowed in courtrooms in DeKalb, Kendall, Lake, Boone and Winnebago counties, among others.

The Supreme Court order does not immediately throw open the doors of all courtrooms in the county to cameras.

Rather, the approved policies would allow each trial judge to determine if and when cameras would be permitted. All media requests would need to be submitted to a judge presiding over a trial two weeks in advance and notice would be provided to both parties involved in a case.

Those parties would then have an opportunity to object to allowing cameras.

With the policy in place, Kane County Court Administrator Doug Naughton said the county's judiciary is now in the process of finalizing its procedures. He said that process should be completed by either June 10 or June 17.

Kane County Chief Judge Judith Brawka said the policies would apply, for now, only to courtrooms in the county's two main courthouses, the Kane County Judicial Center near St. Charles and the Kane County Courthouse in downtown Geneva.

She said limiting the program initially would "provide a model before it is expanded to other branch court facilities," such as the county's courtrooms on Randall Road in St. Charles.

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