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Article updated: 12/18/2012 4:34 PM

Judge: Kane court camera plan needs more input

By Harry Hitzeman

A proposal to allow cameras in Kane County courtrooms still needs further review before it will be sent to the Illinois Supreme Court for approval.

In late October, a committee of prosecutors, public defenders, attorneys and judges drafted a plan and had hoped to send it to the Supreme Court for an OK before the end of the year.

But former 16th Circuit Chief Judge Robert Spence was appointed to the 2nd District Appellate Court before he could move the document along.

Current 16th Circuit Chief Judge Judith Brawka said the plan still needs more input and review.

"Our hope is to get everyone on the same page and have this approved by the (Illinois) Supreme Court by the end of February (2013)," she said.

Brawka said there are two areas that need more discussion. The first is a requirement that the Kane County Circuit Clerk's Office notify parties in cases where there is a request for expanded media coverage. The other is a requirement that court security personnel work with the media to coordinate the placement of cameras in a courtroom.

Brawka noted that voters elected a new circuit clerk, Thomas Hartwell, in November and his office needed a say before his staff were assigned additional duties. She also said court security officers are employees of the sheriff's department and perhaps court bailiffs could coordinate with media members.

"There really wasn't that dialogue with other affected offices and we have to engage in that dialogue," Brawka said.

Finally, the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles has a different infrastructure and courtroom setup than the Third Street courthouse in Geneva where civil cases are heard.

"That's extremely true. The (camera) role has to be broad enough to work in both buildings," Brawka said.

In January, the Supreme Court ruled cameras should be allowed in courtrooms on an experimental, circuit-by-circuit basis.

Since then, several circuits, including the 18th Circuit in DuPage County, have developed and approved camera plans.

Certain cases, such as child custody disputes and sexual assault cases, are exempt from allowing coverage with television and digital cameras.

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