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State’s attorney expects cameras in Kane courtrooms in 2013

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said when cameras are allowed in the county’s courtrooms, the public might be surprised that it likely won’t be nearly as exciting as some may envision.

McMahon said many will find the process monotonous, but he understands there is value.

“I expect to see cameras in this building in the year 2013,” McMahon said at his monthly news conference at the Kane County Judicial Center. “I welcome that. It will give the public a new level of access.”

McMahon was part of a panel that met after the Illinois Supreme Court in January approved a pilot program that allowed news organizations to use cameras and electronic news recordings in courtrooms. Each judicial circuit can create its own rules, and such a plan recently was completed in the 16th Judicial Circuit, which includes Kane County.

Judge Judith Brawka, chief judge of the 16th Circuit, said she expects the proposed program to be submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court for approval in December. If approved, she said media coverage would be available in early 2013.

When she was elected as chief judge, Brawka said she was a big proponent of transparency, pointing out that she supported the efforts to allow cameras.

McMahon has not resisted such efforts, although he has urged caution to make sure those involved – including witnesses and victims – are protected. He said it was important to remember that those involved in cases, some of which involve violent crimes, must go home and “live with the consequences.”

McMahon said important issues were addressed by the committee.

“I think that we can implement cameras in the courtroom in a way that respects the process,” he said.

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