McHenry County to allow news media to photograph, video record court proceedings starting Jan. 1

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Starting Jan. 1, news outlets will be allowed to photograph and record McHenry County court proceedings with a judge’s approval.

The Illinois Supreme Court has approved the 22nd Judicial Circuit and Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts to allow extended media coverage at the the Michael J. Sullivan Judicial Center, 2200 N. Seminary Ave., Woodstock. McHenry County’s court becomes the 20th of the state’s 24 circuit courts to have an extended media coverage agreement, according to a news release. The allowance of cameras in Illinois courtrooms was approved by the Illinois Supreme Court on February 22, 2016.

Under the new rule, journalists can request to bring cameras into McHenry County courtrooms for still photography and video recording with permission from the presiding judge.

Limitations to extended media coverage are afforded to juvenile, divorce, adoption, child custody, visitation and family law cases, which cannot be photographed or video recorded.
Cameras also will be barred from criminal and civil pretrial hearings regarding suppression or admission of evidence, specialty criminal courts or "trade secret issues," according to the release.

Members of the news media may not photograph or record jurors while they are serving or without their consent. Journalists also cannot photograph or record victims testifying about sexual abuse without their permission. A hearing will take place if a party to the case raises an objection to the requested extended media coverage.

Members of the news media selected Northwest Herald News Editor Kristen Zambo to act as the media coordinator and must file requests for coverage at least 14 days in advance of the court proceeding. Zambo will collaborate with Trial Court Administrator James “Dan” Wallis, who will serve as court media liaison.