News photographer takes first pictures in Lake County courtroom
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Matthew Padour's head drooped slightly when a Lake County judge sentenced him to six months of periodic imprisonment for punching a Metra conductor during an altercation last April.
What made the sentencing hearing more significant was that a news photographer was taking pictures, marking the first time a Lake County courtroom was opened to cameras.
Despite the historic nature of the event, it passed quietly with little fanfare. Neither Judge Raymond Collins, nor the defense and prosecuting attorneys wanted to talk about it after the hearing.
As for Padour, the 31-year-old Libertyville man will serve his time in Lake County jail and be released only to go to work, to substance and anger management counseling, to court, or complete his sentence of 150 hours of community service, Collins ruled.
The case will be reviewed in three months, and should Padour conform to the letter of the law, he could be released early, Collins said.
Padour will also spend 24 months on probation following his release from jail later this year, he also must not use in any illegal drugs or alcohol, and is not allowed to ride Metra.
Padour, who has numerous alcohol-related misdemeanor charges against him, was taken into custody immediately after the hearing.
"I did not feel straight probation was significant enough to break the pattern here," Collins told Padour. "Now, you will have a chance to change your life."
During the hearing, Padour apologized to the unidentified victim and said he realized what he did was wrong and is taking full responsibility for his actions.
"I feel horrible for what I've done," Padour said. "I'd like an opportunity to contribute to society in a positive way."
He was found guilty in February of four counts of aggravated battery of the conductor on April 5, 2012.
He was facing a maximum sentence of five years behind bars, but Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Jim Newman asked for only one full year of periodic imprisonment.
Newman said after the hearing that Padour had never served jail time for a felony, and this sentence could allow him to work to pay off his restitution of nearly $2,500 to Metra.
Prosecutors said Padour was intoxicated when he got into a scuffle with the conductor at the Libertyville Metra stop. Padour said during the trial the conductor hit him first, a defense rejected by Collins.
Collins agreed last week to allow extended media coverage in his courtroom for Padour's sentencing, though he stipulated that no witnesses and victims could be photographed. He also decided where the camera would be positioned during the hearing — in the jury box at an angle where Padour, Collins and the attorneys were clearly visible.
It was the first time a camera operated in a 19th Judicial Circuit Courtroom since the Illinois Supreme Court agreed to allow still and video cameras in courtrooms in January 2012.
Officials said there are several requests to allow still and video cameras now before Lake County judges. Those requests will be decided in coming weeks.
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