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posted: 6/4/2013 6:11 PM

Kane County court camera plan clears final hurdle

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After months of consideration and review, cameras are headed for Kane County courtrooms.

The Illinois Supreme Court in late May gave the final go-ahead to a plan that was considered by judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys in the 16th Judicial Circuit.

The state's highest court in early 2012 ruled that cameras should be allowed in courtrooms on an experimental, circuit-by-circuit basis.

Numerous other circuits -- including DuPage County -- have approved cameras and have allowed them during trials. In DuPage, the first trial using courtroom cameras was a triple murder case -- the 2010 murders of a Darien family.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon, who served on a committee of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and other lawyers, said he favors cameras in the courtroom.

McMahon acknowledged cameras could have a "chilling effect" on the eagerness for some witnesses and victim to come and testify but said the need to keep the judicial system open and increase public access outweighs that.

"We have a long tradition of having public trials, This is one way we can have greater access to what goes on daily in the courtroom," McMahon said.

Just because the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to Kane County, it doesn't mean cameras will be allowed tomorrow or even in every courtroom. A judge must OK the media request and the chief judge has the final say.

There are several exceptions to extended media coverage: Cameras are prohibited from sex assault cases and child custody cases, to name a few.

The next step is for Judith Brawka, the chief judge of the 16th Circuit, to appoint a judicial coordinator. Media organizations also must appoint a media coordinator.

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