Radio and television audiences will soon experience the sights and sounds of their local courthouses. The Illinois Supreme Court is now allowing reporters, as part of a pilot program, to record audio, video and take photos inside local courtrooms. Dave Shaul, a four-decade Champaign broadcaster, says the court order will lead to more transparency.
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“I see no reason why the public shouldn’t get a chance to view those proceedings, use it as an educational tool and then as one to communicate what the process is,” Shaul says. Judges are still able to deny reporters the right to record at their discretion. Illinois is one of 14 states that did not allow recording in circuit courtrooms. However, Jerry Latherow, president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, says that doesn’t necessarily mean Illinois was wrong. “Just because you’re one of 14 does not mean you’re not right. It’s just something that’s been slower to get in to place here in Illinois,” Latherow says. The court order allows only established reporting agencies to record during sessions. That may lead to complications for bloggers, a group whose status is vague in courtrooms across the country. However, Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride says bloggers such as Capitolfax.com are considered established. Also, the order gives local judges the power to determine who is and isn’t established news media.