A pilot program will allow cameras and microphones in one courtroom in McLean County. (Photo By B Corbin/WJBC)
By Paul Morello
BLOOMINGTON - Cameras and microphones are coming to McLean County court.
Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride and 11th Circuit Chief Judge Elizabeth Robb announced Tuesday that news media will be allowed to bring cameras and mics into one courtroom in McLean County. Still photography will be allowed in all courtrooms.
"I think it better informs citizens about what goes on in courtrooms, what's being said, how evidence is laid out," Robb said.
Robb and other court officials have been consulting with local media, including WJBC, over the past few months to decide the best way to implement the program.
"Judges who have been involved in this say it has been positive so we're looking forward to the same kind of an experience with our local media representatives," Robb said.
McLean County is the first in Central Illinois to participate in the pilot program, which was announced in January. So far, 24 Illinois counties are participating in the experimental project.
The 11th Circuit includes McLean, Livingston, Ford and Woodford counties, but the program will first be implemented in McLean County before expanding.
Robb said the media will have to file a form in order to request permission to cover a case. There is then a hearing by the judge to decide whether the request will be granted.
There is no specific timeline for when the pilot will end, but Robb said judges must report to the Supreme Court monthly to give updates on the project.
"With the continued increase in participation, the highest priority of the pilot project remains to balance carefully greater openness and access to our courts with dignity for the process and the guaranteed rights of all to a fair trial," Kilbride said.
Paul Morello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.