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posted: 4/10/2013 4:25 PM

First Lake County test for courtroom cameras set for Monday

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The sentencing hearing for a Libertyville man convicted of punching a Metra conductor following a Cubs game will be the first test for the newsmedia to use cameras in Lake County courtrooms.

Judge Raymond Collins has agreed to allow extended media coverage in his courtroom Monday for the sentencing of Matthew Padour, 30.

Jennie Vana, media coordinator for the 19th Judicial Circuit, said the program to allow cameras in the courtroom on an experimental basis is a way to "enhance transparency of court proceedings."

"While the media has always had access to courtrooms, they could not bring cameras until now," Vana said. "Sometimes, a picture is worth a thousand words."

In allowing still cameras in the courtroom for the first time Monday, Collins stipulated that no witnesses and victims would be photographed. He also will decide where the camera can be positioned during the hearing, as the only location the photographer can use.

This is the first time a camera will operate in a 19th Judicial Circuit Courtroom since the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to allow still and video cameras in courtrooms in January 2012.

Since then, state directors have been slowly going county by county to roll out the program.

Cameras were used in a courtroom for the first time in November in the 18th Judicial Circuit of DuPage County. Kane County's 16th Judicial Circuit has a plan in place to approve cameras in its courtrooms later this year.

While only a still camera will be allowed in Monday's hearing, television cameras will be permitted in Lake County courtrooms in the future.

Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said he supports allowing a camera in court proceedings.

"We have always been in favor of any effort to improve transparency in the judicial process," Nerheim said. "We will be mindful of the rights of the defendants and to ensure the victims' rights are respected."

Padour is expected to be sentenced to two to five years in prison after being convicted on four counts of aggravated battery for punching the Metra conductor on April 5, 2012.

Prosecutors said Padour was intoxicated when he got into a scuffle with the conductor at the Libertyville Metra stop. Padour said during the trial that the conductor hit him first, a defense rejected by Collins.

Vana said there are several requests to allow still and video cameras now before Lake County judges. Those requests will be decided by the presiding judges in the future.

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