Transparency in Illinois Government
11:23 am
Tue February 14, 2012

Shop Talk - February 14

The panelists discuss a pair of plans to bring greater transparency to Illinois government.

One allows cameras and microphones in the state's trial courtrooms. Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride announced late last month he will allow the technology to be used on an experimental basis. The Illinois News Broadcaster's Association and other media groups have said for many years that this would be a way to improve coverage of the judicial system.

The technology has been allowed in the Illinois Supreme Court and appellate courts - with permission - but had been banned from circuit courts even though almost every other state has allowed trials to be televised.  The Illinois program will be modeled after the system used in Iowa, which has allowed cameras and microphones in courtrooms for decades.

The other proposal to provide greater transparency in Illinois would allow people to record police officers engaged in their duties in public. Current law prohibits the video recording of police in public places. Offenders face lengthy prison sentences.

A bill (HB 3944) now moving through the Illinois legislature would change the law. Supporters contend it will not only better serve the people but it will also protect police by providing a record of their interactions with the public.