Illinois Supreme Court approves Extended Media Coverage in Circuit Court of Cook County
Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans today announced that the use of media cameras and audio recording devices in courtrooms has been approved in Cook County by the Supreme Court on an experimental, limited basis. The experimental pilot program will begin Monday, January 5, 2014, in the felony courtrooms at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building, 2600 South California Avenue in Chicago.
“The opening of Cook County criminal courtrooms to media cameras is a significant and very welcome step in our efforts to bring greater transparency to the judicial process, while protecting the rights of the accused, witnesses, and jurors," Chief Justice Garman said. "This is a challenging undertaking, given the logistics of the Cook County court system and the large number of interested media outlets in the Chicago area. I am confident that Chief Judge Evans and his staff and the many individual judges who preside over cases in Cook County Circuit Court will rise to the challenge, just as I am sure that the members of the media will find that the procedures that have been adopted protect both the public’s right to know and the rights of victims, jurors, and others to be shielded from unwanted publicity.”
Chief Judge Evans expressed his deep gratitude to the Illinois Supreme Court, especially Chief Justice Garman and former Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride. “I am extremely pleased that the public will now hear and see through extended media coverage exactly what is taking place in Cook County courtrooms – this is a tremendous step forward to enhanced transparency and accountability at every level of the court system,” said Chief Judge Evans. “The public’s understanding of how their justice system truly operates will be enhanced as they observe firsthand that litigants are treated with respect and that justice can be done fairly and impartially.”
Evans noted that the use of media cameras in courtrooms has succeeded in other states and in other Illinois counties, and he is confident it will succeed in Cook County also.
The initial phase of the Cook County pilot program will be limited to the Leighton Court Building and to felony cases only. All bond calls conducted at Leighton, including Central Bond Court, Branch 66 and Branch 98, are excluded from the pilot.
Chief Judge Evans noted the pilot program will operate under the Supreme Court’s “Policy for Extended Media Coverage in the Circuit Courts of Illinois” and Circuit Court of Cook County General Administrative Order 2014-12 and that adherence to both policies is necessary if the pilot program is to succeed and ultimately expand to other kinds of cases and other courthouses in Cook County. To assist the media and the judiciary in implementing the pilot, Chief Judge Evans has designated three members of his staff to serve as court media liaisons: Stephen Brandt, Acting Director of Legal Research, Michael Carroll, Director of Information Services, and Rose Mary Marasso, Assistant to the Chief Judge.
Under the Supreme Court's EMC Policy and Cook County Circuit Court General Administrative Order No. 2014-12 entered by Chief Judge Evans, a request for cameras at a hearing or trial must be initiated by the news media through a media coordinator selected by the media. The media coordinator must file an EMC request on behalf of the news media with the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The circuit clerk will docket the request and forward a copy to a member of the court’s media liaison team who in turn will notify the following individuals in the case: the attorneys, the pro se litigants (persons choosing self-representation instead of attorney representation), and the judge assigned to the case. Chief Judge Evans and Criminal Division Presiding Judge Paul P. Biebel, Jr. will also be notified. Next, the court will schedule a hearing on the request, and Presiding Judge Biebel’s office will notify the attorneys, pro se litigants, the media coordinator, and the court media liaison team of the date and time. The judge assigned to the case will rule on the request.
A decision by a judge to allow or disallow coverage is not appealable.
The media coordinator will work with the court media liaison on Chief Judge Evans's staff and the judge assigned to the case to ensure adherence to all required procedures.
Bob Graves, Illinois photo editor for the Associated Press, has been selected by the media to serve as the media coordinator.
“The news media has demonstrated the utmost professionalism and dedication in working with me and members of my staff as well as the staff of the Illinois Supreme Court in preparing for Extended Media Coverage,” said Chief Judge Evans. “I especially want to thank Joseph R. Tybor, Director of Communications for the Illinois Supreme Court, Meg Theno, Senior Photo Editor, Chicago Tribune, Tony Capriolo, Daypart Manager for WMAQ-TV, CC Boggiano, News Operations Manager for WLS-TV, Kii Sato, U.S. Regional Photo Editor for the Associated Press, and Julie Mann, Managing Editor for WBBM-AM780.
He also praised staff from the offices of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, Public Defender Abishi C. Cunningham, Jr. and Sheriff Thomas Dart for their cooperation and assistance.
Notwithstanding a request by the news media, the Supreme Court policy gives absolute discretion to the assigned judge on whether to allow extended media coverage of a proceeding. Consistent with Article VI, Section 7(c) of the Illinois Constitution, which grants supervisory authority to the chief judge over his Circuit, the policy also gives discretion to the chief judge to disallow coverage.
The Supreme Court policy provides that the request be made at least 14 days in advance of the time the proceeding is scheduled, although the time frame may be expanded or reduced by the judge. It encourages media pooling and requires media pooling where there are more media requesting extended coverage than the number of cameras the judge allows.
The Supreme Court policy requires attorneys to inform the parties and the witnesses that a request for EMC has been made. It allows parties and witnesses to object to the request and provides that the assigned judge will rule on any objections.
In prosecutions for sexual abuse, or when sexual abuse is an essential element, there will be no extended media coverage of the testimony of the alleged victim without the alleged victim's consent. An objection to extended media coverage by a testifying victim in any other prosecution of a forcible felony, by police informants, by undercover agents, and by relocated witnesses shall be presumed valid, but ruled upon by the assigned judge.
The Supreme Court policy also prohibits media coverage in any juvenile, divorce, adoption, child custody, evidence suppression, and trade secret cases, as well as in any court proceeding required under Illinois law to be held in private.
Extended media coverage of jury selection, the jury, and individual jurors before the conclusion of the trial also is prohibited under the policy.
Chief Judge Evans is inviting members of the news media to attend a meeting on Monday, December 22, 2014, at 2 p.m., in courtroom 2005 of the Richard J. Daley Center. There will be a presentation that outlines in detail how EMC will operate, with questions from the media to follow. Members of news organizations are encouraged to attend and should respond to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cameras will be permitted at the meeting.
A copy of the entire Supreme Court policy is available at the Supreme Court's Web site at www.illinoiscourts.gov. Go to Quick Links, Supreme Court, and Extended Media Coverage Pilot Programs.
A copy of Circuit Court of Cook County General Administrative Order 2014-12 is attached below and also available on the Circuit Court of Cook County Web site at www.cookcountycourt.org. Go to Attorneys/Litigants, General Administrative Orders. Forms will be available on or before January 5, 2015.
IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS
GENERAL ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER NO. 2014-12
SUBJECT: EXTENDED MEDIA COVERAGE
WHEREAS, pursuant to the Illinois Supreme Court’s order authorizing Extended Media Coverage In the Circuit Courts of Illinois on an Experimental Basis, M.R. 2634 (eff. Jan. 24, 2013) (“Policy”), the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, has been approved by the Illinois Supreme Court to permit extended media coverage as a pilot project on an experimental basis,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, effective Monday, January 5, 2015 and until further order of this Court, that extended media coverage shall be permitted in the Criminal Division courtrooms located in the George N. Leighton Criminal Courts Building, 2600 South California Avenue, Chicago, Illinois 60608, in accordance with the provisions set forth in this order and the Policy. Such extended media coverage shall only be allowed in cases in which the chief judge and the assigned judge authorize such coverage, and it may be terminated at any time in the sole discretion of the chief judge or the assigned judge. Neither the chief judge’s decision nor the assigned judge’s decision is appealable.
A. These local provisions shall govern the procedure in the Circuit Court of Cook County in all proceedings except where provision for a different procedure is specifically provided by the Policy, and they shall be construed so as to not conflict with the Policy or this Court’s General Administrative Order 2013-01 (eff. April 15, 2013) (Cell Phones and Other Electronic Devices), which sets forth this Court’s general policy on the use of electronic devices in courthouse facilities. Section headings contained herein shall not be deemed to govern, limit, modify, or in any manner affect the scope, meaning, or intent of the provisions of any section of this order. Nothing in this order shall preclude coverage of a judicial proceeding by other members of the news media who have not been granted permission for extended media coverage, nor shall it limit or restrict the power, authority, or responsibility otherwise vested in the chief circuit judge and the judge presiding to:
1. control the conduct of any proceeding;
2. maintain decorum and prevent distractions;
3. guarantee the safety of the courtroom, including any party, witness, or juror; and
4. ensure the fair and impartial administration of justice in the pending proceeding.
B. Media representatives, including, but not limited to, media coordinators and operators of media equipment, providing coverage pursuant to this order shall be presumed to have actual or constructive knowledge of the provisions of the Policy, Cook Co. Cir. Ct. G.A.O. 2013-01 (eff. April 15, 2013), and this order and to have agreed to abide by their provisions .
1. "Chief judge" means the chief circuit judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
2. “Clerk” means the circuit clerk, also known as the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County or the Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County.
3. “Day” means calendar day.
4. "Extended media coverage" means any media recording or broadcasting of proceedings by the use of television, radio, photographic, or recording equipment for the purpose of gathering and disseminating news to the public.
5. "Judge" means the circuit or associate judge presiding in a trial court proceeding.
6. "Judicial proceedings" or "proceedings" includes all public trials, hearings, or other proceedings of this court when extended media coverage is requested, except those specifically excluded by the Policy.
7. “Media coordinator” means a representative or representatives acting on behalf of all news media organizations, who shall be selected to organize and submit requests for extended media coverage and administer all aspects of extended media coverage for the news media. The media coordinator shall be selected by and among representatives of the news media and shall be approved by the Chief Judge. The Chief Judge may at his or her discretion appoint a media coordinator in the event the various news media cannot agree on a media coordinator.
8. “Court media liaison” means a person or persons designated by the chief judge to work with the media coordinator on all matters pertaining to extended media coverage.
9. "News media", in general, means established news gathering and reporting agencies and their representatives whose function is to inform the public. All news media representatives, including, but not limited to, media coordinators, photographers, and operators of audio equipment shall have and produce on request by the sheriff, judge, or media liaison valid media credentials approved by the sheriff of Cook County.
10. “Photographer” means a person operating a still camera, television camera, or other related or similar equipment.
D. Requests, Objections, and Orders.
1. Requests for extended media coverage. Requests for extended media coverage shall be filed with the clerk under the case number of the case for which extended media coverage is requested. The clerk may permit the media coordinator to fax, email, or electronically file the request. The form of a request for extended media coverage shall be as prescribed in section F(8) of this order.
2. Notice of Requests. The court media liaison shall provide written notice of all filed requests for extended media coverage to all counsel currently of record, parties appearing without counsel, the judge, and the chief judge. The court shall schedule the matter as soon as is practical.
3. Objections by Parties. Objections by parties shall be filed with the clerk under the case number of the case for which extended media coverage has been requested and within the time periods provided in the Policy. The form of a party’s objection to extended media coverage shall be as prescribed in section K(10) of this order.
4. Objections by Witnesses. At least seven (7) days before commencement of the proceeding, all witnesses shall be advised by counsel proposing to introduce their testimony of their right to object to extended media coverage. Objections by witnesses shall be filed with the clerk under the case number of the case for which extended media coverage has been requested and at least three (3) days before commencement of the proceeding. The form of a witness’s objection to extended media coverage shall be as prescribed in section K(10) of this order.
5. Notice of Objections. Parties appearing without counsel and witnesses shall be entitled to the assistance of the circuit clerk in providing copies of their objections to extended media coverage to all counsel currently of record, parties appearing without counsel, the media coordinator, the judge, and the court media liaison. Upon request of a party appearing without counsel or a witness, the circuit clerk shall give notice of the objection to extended media coverage to all counsel currently of record, parties appearing without counsel, the media coordinator, the judge, and the court media liaison. Upon receipt of an objection to extended media coverage, the court media liaison shall inform the judge and the chief judge. The clerk shall not assess any non-party witness any fee for providing the above assistance. The clerk may petition the court to order one or more parties to a proceeding to pay to the clerk the clerk’s costs of mailing witness objections.
6. Written Orders. The judge shall enter a written order on all requests for extended media coverage specifying the scope of coverage, if any, permitted. An order for extended media coverage shall be effective for only the proceedings specified in the written order. The form of an order for extended media coverage shall be as prescribed in section K(10) of this order.
7. Time of Request, Objection, and Notice. Calendar days shall be used for the purpose of calculating the deadlines provided in the Policy and this order for the filing of requests and objections and the service of notice.
E. Equipment and Courtroom Conduct.
1. Enhanced Microphones. Parabolic or other highly sensitive long range microphones are prohibited.
2. Assigned Locations. The judge, court media liaison, or judge’s designee will direct the news media to their assigned place(s).
3. Decorum. Members of the news media shall comply with the orders and directives of the judge and shall not engage in the following conduct:
a) making comments in the courtroom during court proceedings;
b) commenting to or within the hearing of any member of the jury, including alternate jurors, at any time before the jury is dismissed;
c) conducting interviews in the courtroom; and
d) recording or transmitting images of the following, unless they have been admitted into evidence:
i. materials on counsel tables
ii. materials on evidence carts
F. General Provisions.
1. Temporary and Permanent Installations. The judge may order the news media to install any manner of temporary courtroom alterations including, but not limited, to a screen or divider to conceal the jury from the view of recording equipment. No permanent installation of any audio or video recording equipment shall be made nor shall any court facility be altered, unless approved in advance by the chief judge. All expenses for permanent or temporary installations shall be borne by the news media.
2. Sub-contracting and Assignment. Permission for extended media coverage shall not be sub-contracted or assigned.
3. Courthouse Security. Court security policies require all persons and equipment entering the courthouse to submit to the sheriff’s security procedures. Consent to provide extended media coverage does not include consent for news media representatives to bypass security procedures. News media representatives must allow sufficient time to complete security procedures before commencement of the proceedings. Judicial proceedings may not be interrupted to allow installation of media equipment or positioning of personnel.
4. Inadmissibility in Proceedings. Neither visual nor audio reproductions, whether in digital, videotape, audiotape, conventional film, or other format, obtained by or through extended media coverage shall constitute evidence or any other part of the official court record of the proceeding for purposes of that proceeding, any related subsequent proceedings, whether supplemental or collateral, or for purposes of appeal or otherwise.
5. Sanctions. The sanctions that may be imposed by the judge or chief judge upon any news media representative or agency found to have violated the Policy or this order include, but are not limited to, revocation of consent to provide extended media coverage, sanctions allowed for contempt, and any other sanctions authorized by law.
6. Revocation of Permission. If the media coordinator or any media representative fails to comply with the conditions set forth in the Policy, this order, or other orders of the judge or chief judge, the judge or chief judge may impose restrictions on the dissemination, broadcast, or publication of extended media coverage.
7. Pilot Project. This order establishes a pilot project and is subject to revision or termination at any time and without advanced notice.
8. Official Forms. Whenever one of the following forms is applicable to extended media coverage, it shall be used. If the official form does not allow the relevant issues to be completely addressed, they may be additionally addressed in supplemental documents incorporated by reference on the official form and attached and made a part of the official form.
a) Request for Extended Media Coverage
b) Order on Request for Extended Media Coverage
c) Objection by Party to Extended Media Coverage
d) Objection by Witness to Extended Media Coverage of Testimony
Dated: December 16, 2014
Timothy C. Evans
Circuit Court of Cook County