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updated: 4/25/2013 7:15 PM

Kane County court camera plan approaches final step

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  • Judith Brawka

      Judith Brawka

 
 

A proposal to allow cameras in Kane County courtrooms has received final approval from judges and will be sent to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Chief Judge Judith Brawka said 16th Circuit judges met Wednesday night and gave their final approval through a voice vote. She expects an answer from the Supreme Court justices within two months or less.

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"Their schedule is their own. I don't want to presume anything," Brawka said Thursday.

The state high court in early 2012 decided to allow courtroom cameras on an experimental, circuit-by-circuit basis. Several circuits have since not only approved but implemented plans to allow cameras where the media has applied for expanded coverage.

One is the 18th Circuit in DuPage County, where a trial for a triple murder in Darien in March 2010 continues.

If approved, Kane's process will mirror some other circuits', with the media making a request for expanded coverage, the clerk's office notifying parties in the case, and a judge ruling on the merits. Certain types of cases, such as sexual assault and child custody cases, still have a camera ban.

Brawka said that just because other circuits have cameras in place doesn't necessarily mean Kane is behind.

She noted the state's Supreme Court did not issue a mandate and gave circuits power to decide on whether to participate.

She also noted that two counties, Kendall and DeKalb, split from the 16th Circuit in December 2012 and voters also elected a new circuit clerk, Thomas Hartwell, whose office will have additional responsibilities if the plan is approved.

Robert Spence, who was chief judge before Brawka and appointed a committee to study the issue, also was appointed to the 2nd District Appellate Court in the fall. He did not have time to approve the plan and send it to the Supreme Court before his appointment took effect.

"This was a collaborative process even after the committee made the recommendation," Brawka said. "It fits our single circuit better. I have every reason to believe the Supreme Court will look favorably (on it)."

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