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Cameras Allowed In Trial Courts on a Trial Basis

In the words of Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, “this is another step to bring more transparency and more accountability to the Illinois court system.”

Our Chicago personal injury attorneys were interested to hear that, starting this year, video cameras will be used to record proceedings in select civil trial courts across Illinois. The new policy, implemented this month, allows cameras in Illinois trial courts on an experimental basis; according to NBC Chicago, the pilot project authorizes coverage in circuit courts that have applied for approval from the Illinois Supreme Court.

Prior to this month, Illinois was one of only 14 states that either didn’t allow cameras in trial courts or allowed them on a very restrictive basis, said NBC Chicago. Now, the pilot project, effective immediately, permits cameras in all courtrooms with some exceptions specifically listed in the order: videotaping will not be allowed for jury selection or of jurors at all, to ensure that the jury cannot be unduly influenced. The presiding judge can also choose not to have his or her face shown on camera, and videotaping will not be permitted in cases involving juveniles, adoption, child custody, evidence suppression or trade secret cases. Additionally, there will be no videotaping of testimony by a sexual assault victim unless the testifying victim consents.
Said, Killbride, “the provisions of this new policy keep discretion in the chief circuit judge and the trial judge to assure that a fair and impartial trial is not compromised, yet affords a closer look at the workings of our court system to the public through the eyes of the electronic news media and news photographers.”

Once the trial has been recorded, the videotapes will be saved and uploaded to a local server, where they will later be uploaded to the Northern District’s website for public viewing. However, before being made available to the public, the judge may order the tape to be edited to remove parts inappropriate for public viewing.

At this point of the policy’s implementation, the cameras are only being employed to record civil cases. Our Chicago personal injury attorneys are encouraged by the fact that the public will be afforded access to the inner workings of a courtroom. Unfortunately when most laypersons hear about Illinois personal injury lawsuits, they only catch distorted headlines that portray victims as people trying to make a quick buck.

Nevertheless, that isn’t the truth. Illinois personal injury claims arise when people are injured by careless or intentional acts of others, or injured by products that are defective in some way. When someone is determined to be legally responsible for injuring someone else, they are liable for the injury, and may be made to pay the injured person compensatory damages.

When people are legitimately hurt by negligent or intentional acts of others, the law provides a fair forum for those harmed to achieve justice. Hopefully, allowing access inside courtrooms will be a step in the right direction for changing these incorrect beliefs by allowing people to hear the story from start to finish, and allowing the public an unbiased view into the reality of how decisions are reached.

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