BLOOMINGTON — McLean County has become the most recent Illinois county to be approved for news cameras and microphones in its courtrooms.
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and Chief Judge Elizabeth A. Robb of the 11th Judicial Circuit made the announcement Tuesday, bringing to 24 the number of Illinois counties to participate in a pilot program approved by the Supreme Court earlier this year.
"The chief judge has told me that lawyers, judges and media have all met in preparation to implement the project and that those discussions have been very positive," said Kilbride.
"Cameras and microphones in the courtroom have now expanded to nearly one quarter of the counties in Illinois. 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."
McLean County is the first in central Illinois to participate in the pilot project. Champaign and Vermilion counties have not applied.
"It is a step forward that Chief Judge Robb and the judges in the 11th Circuit have embraced the pilot project," said Justice Rita B. Garman, whose Fourth Judicial District includes the circuit. "It gives another media market, this one in central Illinois, the opportunity to give citizens a real glimpse of what happens in our courtrooms, rather than some fictionalized account on TV.
"The Supreme Court's policy regarding cameras in the courtroom is designed to carefully balance a defendant's right to a fair trial with the important role of the media to inform the public. I am confident that the preparations made by Judge Robb and her colleagues will ensure that both of these goals are well served."
The order is effective immediately.