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updated: 9/13/2012 8:34 PM

Kane County could see courtroom cameras by year end

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A plan to have cameras in Kane County courtrooms could be finalized next month and approved by the Illinois Supreme Court before the end of the year.

Kendall County Judge Timothy McCann, chairman of the committee working on the plan, said he hopes the committee will ratify the plan Oct. 24.

If that happens, the plan will be sent to 16th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Robert Spence and then the Illinois Supreme Court.

"I believe what you're going to get is a turnaround measured in weeks, not months," McCann said. "We also think it's paramount that there needs to be a process that does not impinge on a person's right to a fair trial. A fair trial is No. 1. That's why we've been acting cautiously moving forward."

The state's Supreme Court earlier this year authorized cameras and other electronic recording devices for courtrooms on an experimental, circuit-by-circuit basis. The state's Supreme Court has spelled out numerous guidelines, allowing a maximum of two cameras in a courtroom and forbidding the recording of juries, court recesses and certain types of cases, such as child custody battles and sexual assault.

Joseph Tybor, spokesman for the Illinois Supreme Court, said approval before the end of the year certainly is possible for the 16th Circuit's plan.

"If their rules pass muster, it could be sooner rather than later," Tybor said. "It really depends on when they petition the court. The feeling is the (circuit) courts have had time to study this. As we go along, I think everybody's getting more confident about it and willing to do it."

McCann said the committee has borrowed some ideas from the 19th Judicial Circuit in Lake County and also Winnebago County.

The committee is targeting three areas: A process to initiate a request for cameras on a certain case; notifying parties involved, including witnesses, who may object to being photographed; and technical aspects, such as where cameras will be located and ensuring that clicking shutters will not disrupt the courtroom.

The 16th Circuit currently contains Kane, Kendall and DeKalb counties. In December, that will change with Kendall and DeKalb forming the 23rd Judicial Circuit.

"We anticipate when we split off in the 23rd, we're going to clone a lot of the things from the 16th," McCann said, noting the committee, which contains not only judges, but prosecutors, public defenders and attorneys, will remain after the cameras go into effect.

"We view this as an evolutionary process. This is going to take awhile," McCann said.

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