Cameras & Microphones in Illinois Circuit Courts

After years of efforts by media organizations, the Illinois Supreme Court has opened up cameras and microphones in the circuit courts in most parts of the state.

Following a four year pilot project,  the Illinois Supreme Court adopted a permanent policy in 2016 for cams and mics in the courts, more formally known as Extended Media Covarage (EMC) in the circuit courts. The Court’s policy allows journalists to use video cameras, still cameras, and microphones to record certain proceedings in courts.  Twenty of the state’s 24 circuits now have the authority to allow EMC. In April , 2018, the 20th Circuit in southwestern Illinois became the most recent addition to list.

Not all  of the jurisdictions are taking part. Currently the 2nd,4th,5th,12th & 22th do not allow for the additional coverage.

Each Circuit approved for EMC has a designated Media Coordinator, chosen from among the journalists who cover the court. Reporters are to notify the Media Coordinator for assistance in having the required forms filed in requesting EMC. The petition should be filed two weeks in advance.  Objections to the coverage can also be filed.

The Judge has the authority to allow or deny coverage at all times.   Reporters are not allowed to capture audio or video of the jury.  EMC is not allowed for most juvenile and family court issues, sexual abuse, dissolution, evidence suppression or trade secret cases.

The privileges granted under The EMC are permitted for news media only.

Reporters who plan to cover proceedings under the guidelines, should visit the court room ahead of time to get familiar with the facilities and where they will be stationed.   It is also important for the reporters to take the time to get familiar with both the Supreme Court’s rules and that Circuit Court’s particular rules for coverage.

The EMC policy.