Cook County Courts Start Pilot Program Allowing Cameras in Courts

Cook County has the largest single unified court system in the United States. For the first time, on Jan. 5, 2015, the Circuit Court of Cook County began allowing media cameras in courtrooms. The pilot program has limited to the Leighton Criminal Court building at 26th and California streets in Chicago.

In order to take photographs or film in a Cook County courtroom, the media would have to request authority in advance. The privilege to photograph or videotape court proceedings was initiated by the Illinois Supreme Court’s Extended Media Coverage (EMC) policy and the court’s authorization, which extended media coverage in Illinois courts; it is referred to as M.R 2634.

The pilot program is designed to allow for increased transparency in the Cook County court system.

Cook County joined 40 other Illinois counties that have already allowed media coverage. It remains to be seen as to whether Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans will allow additional media coverage in other courtrooms around the county.

Chief Judge Evans commented that he chose the Leighton Criminal Court as the first pilot site because it was “a place where the public and the media had been accustomed to going” and because “many noteworthy and celebrated cases happen” at 2600 S. California.

Judge Evans’s order was entered on Dec. 16, 2014 as Cook County Circuit Court General Administrative Order No. 2014-12.


The Cook County court system has appointed Robert Graves to be the media coordinator. All requests for media coverage have to be submitted through the clerk’s office. Graves is a photo editor for the Associated Press. At the time of the article that appeared in the Illinois Bar Journal, February 2013, Volume 103, Graves indicated that one request had already been made by the media to videotape or photograph the proceedings in a homicide case regarding Chicago Policeman Thomas Wortham. This article pointed out that request for media coverage has to be submitted 14 days in advance.

Judge Evans has said that unless stalled by some unforeseen difficulties, the media program will be expanded to the Richard J. Daley Center and to the suburban Cook County courthouses. In general, coverage of court proceedings are interesting to the public at large. The public’s response should be positive to media court proceedings.
Kreisman Law Offices has been practicing trial law in the Cook County court systems for more than 38 years handling commercial litigation, catastrophic injury cases, medical malpractice cases and nursing home abuse cases for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Chicago (Wicker Park, Austin, Back of the Yards, Irving Park), Hanover Park, Park Ridge, Winnetka, Winfield, Westchester, Worth, Aurora, Antioch and Bellwood, Ill.

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