Earlier this month Kane County received the Illinois Supreme Court’s approval to join the statewide pilot program extending media coverage to Illinois courts under certain conditions.[i] DuPage and Lake counties already participate in the program that boosts transparency. Not everyone loves the idea of being monitored when in court. Particularly, judges and attorneys who get tired and bogged down might fear additional scrutiny.
Often courts of law and courts of public opinion exist with mutual exclusivity. Now, with big brother in court, our judges, attorneys and system administrators have more to think about as they prepare for daily court calls. Will litigants benefit from a judge compelled to better explain rulings? Might folks at home see what really happens? The ‘scare them straight’ styled programs on cable television often show the worst kids they can to boost ratings. When real kids see who appear to be peers standing at the bench, some viewers might have second thoughts when tempted to boost a television or sell a bag of weed.
Attorney Nicole Sartori of the Fox Valley Law Center, Ltd. on the news about cameras:
“Almost 20 years since the OJ Simpson trial, Illinois finally steps up to the media plate. Watching that trial as a teenager, it made me interested in the profession. Bringing the cameras to the Kane County Courthouse may expose other young people to real trials with real people and create a spark that interests them in the law. Of course, the most gruesome will attract the most coverage and some shrinks would argue that we are sensationalizing their crimes. I don’t believe the actual physical presence of cameras changes whether a Defendant’s name becomes a household name during the trial. Just ask Drew Peterson. As it typically happens when deciding guilt or innocence, it always comes down to the facts and evidence of the case.” Nicole Sartori, Attorney at Law, Fox Valley Law Center, Ltd., Westfield Fox Valley Mall, Aurora, Illinois.
Social media hounds salivate at the stories they might be able share to attract readers and advertisers with the new courtroom media option. Of course, many asked quickly about the use of camera phones on various devices. Your day could come but today is not it, the Chief Judge, Judith Brawka clarified that “the enhanced media coverage does not entitle spectators to record court proceedings on smart phones.[ii]”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan who took her seat August 7, 2010, had the following comments on point, “I do think it would be a good idea…If everybody could see this, it would make more people feel so good about this branch of government and how it’s operating…it’s such a shame actually that only 200 people a day can get to see it and then a bunch of other people can read about it. Because reading about it is not the same experience as actually seeing…” From remarks to the Aspen Institute, August 2, 2011.[iii]
What do you think about cameras in the courtroom? We would love to hear from you on this topic here on our blog or on our Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn page. For more about our firm, visit www.FoxValleyLawCenter.com or stop in and say hello at our office at the Westfield Fox Valley Mall on the second floor near Macy’s. You can also make an appointment to speak to an attorney by dialing (630) 236-2222.
[i] Kane County poised for cameras in courts: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/batavia_geneva_st_charles/chi-kane-county-court-cameras-20130604,0,2064059.story
[ii] Same article
[iii] Justice Elana Kagan to the Aspen Institute covered by c-span. http://www.c-span.org/The-Courts/Cameras-in-The-Court/