Courtroom cameras denied again in DuPage

  • Elzbieta Plackowska

    Elzbieta Plackowska

Updated 12/19/2012 11:33 PM

For a second time, a DuPage County judge has denied camera access to a courtroom.

The request -- to cover an appearance for Elzbieta Plackowska, accused of stabbing to death two children in Naperville -- came from a Chicago TV station.


But Judge Robert Kleeman denied it Wednesday, saying nothing of substance would occur during the Jan. 4 appearance, and moving it to another courtroom to accommodate the equipment would be disruptive.

"I don't know what's to be gained," he said, noting that two court calls would be affected by the move.

Defense and prosecuting attorneys supported the ruling, citing the same objections.

Kleeman also entered a standing order allowing him the discretion to rule on all future media requests to record the Plackowska case without holding a hearing -- unless the media making the request asks for a hearing.

"We would virtually double the number of court appearances, and I don't know what the point would be," he said.

Plackowska's arraignment last month was the first in the Chicago area in which still and video cameras were allowed to record the proceedings. But a subsequent request to cover a hearing for an Aurora teenager accused of reckless homicide in a fatal car crash was denied.

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Plackowska is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder -- five counts each for her 7-year-old son Justin and 5-year-old Olivia Dworakowski. Plackowska also pleaded not guilty to two counts of aggravated cruelty on charges of stabbing to death two family dogs. The killings occurred Oct. 30 at the Dworakowski family townhouse in Naperville.

The state supreme court in January agreed to allow cameras in the courtroom on an experimental basis. In the suburbs, only DuPage and Cook counties have made formal applications for court cameras. Kane County court officials have said they plan to apply, and Lake and McHenry counties are exploring it.

The first circuits approved in Illinois included Winnebago, Rock Island, Carroll, Jo Daviess and other western counties, partly because of their proximity to Iowa's Quad Cities, where court cameras have been used since 1979. Downstate Madison County, approved in March, was selected in part because it's close to St. Louis, where court cameras have been allowed for years.

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