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Cameras in the Courtroom Pilot Program in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois

The Northern District of Illinois is among fourteen United States District Courts selected to participate in a three-year Digital Video Recording Pilot project to evaluate the effect of cameras in the courtroom. The pilot program will conclude in July of 2014. During the pilot, civil bench and jury trials, as well as civil motions hearings may be recorded by local court personnel and published to a website where they will be available for viewing or download by parties, counsel, and the general public. Several courts have already recorded proceedings.

The pilot will record civil trials and hearings. Consent of all parties is required to record the proceeding. A party may consent to the recording of a particular hearing in their case, but not consent to recording of other proceedings in that same case. Even with full party consent, the presiding judge has the discretion to not record proceedings or testimony in a trial or hearing, in the interests of privacy or to protect sensitive matter. Similarly, the presiding judge has the discretion to not publish all or part of a trial or hearing after it has been recorded. If a particular witness has expressed a desire to not be recorded, either the witness or an attorney should inform the presiding judge who can decide after conferring with the parties whether to record that witness or provide other appropriate relief. The recordings will not cover prospective jurors during voir dire or the jurors or alternate jurors during the proceedings.

Parties and counsel will be able to access the recordings within a reasonable amount of time, through a link to the uscourts.gov website and through the Northern District of Illinois’ website at ilnd.uscourts.gov. The video recordings will not serve as the official record of the proceedings.

The Committee on Court Administration and Case Management (“CACM”) of the Judicial Conference has adopted guidelines for the participating courts to follow. To review these guidelines, click here.

We encourage those of you who have civil trials or hearings during the three-year term of the pilot to participate by consenting to the recording of proceedings in which you represent parties. While there may be particular witness testimony that is of concern, you can raise these issues with the presiding judge.

Criminal proceedings will not be recorded under any circumstance.