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posted: 5/6/2012 6:34 PM

Quick 'verdict' means cameras could be coming to Kane courtrooms

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When a committee studying whether to move forward with cameras in 16th Judicial Circuit courtrooms retreated behind closed doors last week, it was a bit like a jury going to deliberate.

Especially when committee members began leaving in less than an hour and saying an announcement could be coming soon.

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The committee had just heard input from media outlets and residents about the state Supreme Court's pilot program to allow cameras and other electronic recording devices into courtrooms.

In this case, the quick decision meant the committee wants to move forward on the cameras and will be working in coming months on a set of rules for the Illinois Supreme Court to review.

My primary tools are a pen and paper, but video and still pictures to help tell a story and pursue the truth are certainly welcome.

Prison for sexual assault: A 38-year-old Elgin man was sentenced last week to 19 years in prison for having sexual contact with an underage girl.

Kane County Judge Karen Simpson sentenced Jose L. Alvarez, of the 300 block of North Street, after a jury convicted him in October 2011 of predatory criminal sexual assault, two counts of criminal sexual assault and three counts of criminal sexual abuse.

Alvarez was accused of assaulting the victim, who is now 16, between 2007 and 2009.

Under Illinois sentencing guidelines, Alvarez will serve a little more than 15 years. He also gets credit for the almost seven months he's spent in the county jail since his conviction.

"The victims and witnesses in this case showed tremendous strength and courage by coming forward to tell their story to police and to the jury," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said. "This is a just sentence that holds this defendant accountable for his selfish actions."

Assistant state's attorneys Nydia Molina and Lori Schmidt prosecuted the case.

Perez feted: Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez recently received the 2012 Law Enforcement Award from the Illinois State Bar Association during the Kane County Bar Association's annual Judges Night at the Fox Valley Country Club in North Aurora.

ISBA President John Locallo, an attorney from Chicago, presented the award to Perez, a lifelong Kane County resident who was first elected in 2006. The award recognizes officers "whose service to the public brings honor and respect to the entire criminal justice system." The award is given sparingly, according to the ISBA.

Besides his law enforcement work, Perez also was cited for his community involvement as a board member of Aurora Superstars Youth Tackle Football; co-chairman of the CASA Kane County Advisory Committee; and his appointment by Gov. Pat Quinn to the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority Board.

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