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State’s attorney supports cameras in the courtroom

Published: Wednesday, June 5, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – Starting Monday, media outlets can request to bring a camera into 16th Judicial Circuit courtrooms – a move that Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said he supports.

The Illinois Supreme Court filed an order May 21 to permit extended media coverage in the 16th Judicial Circuit. McMahon said Tuesday that having cameras in courtrooms during court proceedings “will be successful here” in Kane County.

“I have some concerns about it having a chilling effect on witnesses’ and victims’ eagerness about appearing in court, but it’s outweighed by giving access to this in the courtroom,” he said.

McMahon noted that the judicial system has a long tradition of having public trials, but said it’s not always easy for people to physically be in court to watch the proceedings. He said allowing cameras will give the public greater access to the court systems.

McMahon said there are several exceptions that restrict reporters from filming or photographing certain people, such as sexual abuse victims, unless the victim consents.

A media coordinator will work with a designated judiciary media point person to file requests for certain trials.

McMahon said another challenge to allowing cameras in the courtroom are the technical requirements some crews might need that the judicial center may not be equipped for. No media outlets have requested extended coverage of any trials yet, he said.

When asked whether he thinks cameras in courtrooms might jeopardize a fair trail, McMahon said the rules in place allow trial judges to maintain control of the courtroom.

“I think those issues will work through,” he said.

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