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Chief judge: Cameras in county courts may be ready soon

Fred Foreman

Fred Foreman

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Updated: May 6, 2013 2:13AM

Cameras may be in Lake County courtrooms by the end of the month, according to Chief Judge Fred Foreman.

Lake County’s 15 circuit judges approved rules of practice for extended media coverage in the courtrooms on Monday.

“We’re hoping we have the cooperation of the lawyers, the litigants and the media, allowing people to tune in,” Foreman said.

The rules allow one TV camera and one still camera in a courtroom. Requests for trial coverage must be made at least two weeks in advance.

Media are expected to share footage and photos. They will work with a media coordinator, a person to be selected by and from the news media, and a court media liaison. A media coordinator has not been selected yet.

Cameras will be built into courtrooms at the new planned Criminal Courts Tower, Foreman said. The Lake County Board unanimously voted to fund the nine-story tower, estimated to cost $81.5 million last year.

Criminal Courts Tower will be located in downtown Waukegan at Washington and County streets. Foreman said he expects the tower to be completed in about three years.

It will have 17 courtrooms and space for three future courtrooms.

Criminal courtrooms in the current building will become civil courtrooms once the tower is finished, Foreman said.

The new courtrooms will have two cameras each, Foreman said.

One will be above the judges’ heads and the other will be over the entrance into the courtroom positioned so that jurors will not be recorded.

Jurors are not allowed to be captured on film, according to the rules for extended media coverage.

Attorneys can object to allowing cameras in the courtroom once the request is made. And only audio recordings may be made of some witnesses such as informants and victims, Foreman said.

“The idea is to create an atmosphere of openness without infringing on the rights and privacy of people in the courtroom,” the chief judge said.

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