KANKAKEE — News cameras will be allowed in criminal trial courts in Kankakee County in the 21st Judicial Circuit, Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride of the Illinois Supreme Court and Chief Judge Kathy Bradshaw Elliott of the 21st Judicial Circuit announced Friday
The 21st Circuit is composed of Kankakee and Iroquois counties, but for now Elliott asked that the experimental program proceed only in Kankakee County to provide a model before it is expanded.
The 21st Circuit becomes the second in Illinois approved by the state's highest court for cameras in the courtroom, joining the 14th Judicial Circuit in the Quad Cities area, where extended media coverage has already been implemented.
"Cameras in the courtroom will increase public awareness about the judicial system," said Elliott. "This will enable the public to have a more realistic view of what occurs in court as opposed to what is shown in so-called reality TV shows.
"With the media's assistance and cooperation, we hope to be able to provide the public with a deeper understanding of the court process."
Elliott said she is planning to meet with representatives of the media as well as other courtroom principals such as the state's attorney, public defender, Kankakee County Board president, sheriff and court administrators. Elliott said "our priority is to put the pilot program into effect as soon as may be possible."
The order approving Kankakee County in the 21st Circuit requires that a judge presiding over a proceeding in which cameras were allowed file a report with the chief judge of the circuit, the chief justice and the Supreme Court Justice of the district where the judicial circuit is located.
Kilbride announced Jan. 24 the Supreme Court's approval of an experimental program to allow news media cameras and audio in trial courtrooms.