Northern District of Illinois Among 14 District Courts Participating in Cameras-in-Courtroom Pilot Program

26 August 2011 Second City Bench Memo Publication
Authors: John F. Zabriskie

In the coming weeks, the Northern District of Illinois will be gearing up to implement its participation in a 36-month pilot program designed to study the impact of video recording of federal court proceedings. The Court is one of fourteen federal District Courts selected in June by the Judicial Conference of the United States–the federal judiciary’s primary policy-making body–to participate in the pilot, which is already up and running in other districts.

According to the program’s guidelines (available here) the program will work as follows. Both “trial and non-trial proceedings” in civil–not criminal–cases may be recorded. The parties must consent to any such recording. Non-parties, such as witnesses “or others” may object to recording, and courts may conduct hearings to address such objections. Recordings are not to be broadcast live, but rather will be uploaded shortly after the recorded proceeding to a central U.S. Court’s website, available here.

No proceedings have yet been recorded in the Northern District. The District’s facilities manager reports that the Court is still making final preparations for its participation in the program, including by duly amending its local rule preventing cameras in courtrooms, and by procuring necessary equipment. The Court is expected to launch its participation next month, and will make an announcement to the public when the program is on-line.

As of this posting, two proceedings have been recorded thus far in two other participating districts: a preliminary injunction hearing in the Western District of Tennessee, and a juror voir dire in the Northern District of Ohio.

We are watching this situation closely and will follow-up once the Northern District’s participation in the program gets under way.

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