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Our view: 22nd Circuit looks to join pilot project

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride seems pretty pleased with the progress of the pilot project to allow news cameras and microphones in Illinois trial courtrooms.

To date, 25 counties have been approved to participate in the first-ever extended media coverage experiment. The 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in McHenry County is not yet among those 25. We are hopeful that we soon will join them.

On Friday, the Northwest Herald is joining other stakeholders in a meeting at the county courthouse in Woodstock to discuss joining the pilot project. We are looking forward to helping open up our criminal justice system to better media coverage.

Kilbride issued a news release last week on the first anniversary of the establishment of the pilot project by the Illinois Supreme Court.

“By giving the public a closer look at the workings of our court system, I remain confident that citizens will learn more about how their courts work and the critical roles that judges and the courts have in our society,” Kilbride said.

We agree with Kilbride’s assessment. While McHenry County has yet to open its courtrooms to still and video cameras, we have followed the pilot project in other parts of the state.

So far, we believe still and video cameras have shown the public a criminal justice system that operates in a professional, serious manner in the face of senseless, terrible crimes.

We have not seen nor heard of evidence of witnesses and lawyers “playing to the cameras,” which some naysayers predicted.

We also believe that courtrooms that are more open to public scrutiny afford more protection to the rights of defendants.

Kilbride used last week’s pilot project anniversary to announce that three more counties – DeKalb, Kendall and Lake – have been approved for immediate participation in the pilot project. That’s good news.

May McHenry County be among the next wave of circuit courts to join.

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