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Detailed Guide: Illinois

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Allows Cameras? Yes (with permission)
Exceptions: Supreme Court Orders grant permission in some courts.

Audio or Video Webcast? Yes
Media Guide Available? Yes
Allows Cell Phones to Record Video? Yes

Illinois Supreme Court Rule 44 generally allows media coverage of court proceedings in Illinois only by order of the Supreme Court, but photography and video are affirmatively allowed in certain situations outlined in 44(b). The rule states that court proceedings should be conducted with dignity and decorum and without distraction.  

The Supreme Court of Illinois upgraded its Extended Media Coverage Policy from temporary to permanent in 2016 and governs the media policy in each Illinois circuit court. Circuit courts apply for a court order from the Supreme Court of Illinois that affirmatively permits media recording and broadcasting in the courthouse specified in the order. 19 of the 23 circuits have orders generally permitting extended media coverage.  Under the Policy, the media, through a designated media coordinator, may request extended media coverage, defined as electronic camera and audio coverage. The trial judge and chief judge of a circuit court have authority to disallow coverage, and decisions to deny coverage cannot be appealed.  The request for coverage must occur 14 days before the proceedings; the judge has discretion to extend or reduce the time requirement.  If extended media coverage is granted, no more than two video cameras and two still photographers are allowed to cover any one proceeding.  The media is responsible for developing pooling agreements, and if an agreement cannot be reached, the court will deny coverage.  Camera placement in the courtroom is designated by the judge, and members of the media may not move about the courtroom or move equipment about the courtroom while the court is in session.

A witness has the opportunity to object to coverage, but the ultimate decision to allow or disallow coverage belongs to the judge.  An exception to this rule is in cases of sexual abuse: there will be no extended media coverage of a sexual abuse victim’s testimony unless the victim consents.  Likewise, victims of forcible felonies, police informants, undercover agents, and relocated witnesses may object to extended media coverage.  Extended media coverage is not allowed in trial courts for any juvenile, divorce, adoption, child custody, evidence suppression, trade secrets, or other legally private cases.  Similarly, extended coverage is not allowed during jury selection, and the media may not cover the jury or individual jurors.  
Each county in Illinois determines its own policy for personal  electronic devices in courtrooms.

Links: Authority
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 44: Photography and Video in the Courtroom
Policy for Extended Media Coverage in the Circuit Courts of lllinois

Links: Other
Illinois Courts Media Guide
Illinois Supreme Court Oral Argument Recordings
Illinois Appellate Court Oral Argument Recordings

Last edited: December 12, 2022