Illinois’ pilot program to allow cameras in trial courts will get its first test now that a judge has decided to allow them, despite opposition from litigants on both sides. Accused spree murderer Nicholas Sheley will stand trial in Whiteside County, which is in the judicial circuit testing the program. Illinois State Bar Association President John Locallo says he favors cameras in appellate courts and the Supreme Court.
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“They’re not a trier of fact,” he says. “The issues discussed are purely those of law. The emotional part of the equation does not enter into it, and I think cameras and TV by their nature can elicit a more visceral reaction.” Defense attorneys also argued advance knowledge of news crews in the courtroom could taint the jury pool. The judge in the case disagreed, saying that argument is speculative. Sheley was last year convicted of first degree murder in Knox County, for which he’s serving a life sentence. The Whiteside County trial, scheduled for June, is for a murder in Sterling. Sheley is accused of four other murders in Illinois and two in Missouri. The murders took place in 2008.