Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.


The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

  Cook County has the largest unified trial court system in the world, disposing over 6 million cases in 1990 alone.

Put cameras in Cook County courtrooms

Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Chicago Sun-Times
by Editorial

For two years, the Illinois Supreme Court has been overseeing a “pilot” program to gauge the impact of allowing cameras in courtrooms. It’s time to declare the program a success and bring it to Cook County.

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans applied back on Jan. 24, 2012, for the right to allow video and audio recordings. As the Sun-Times’ Tim Novak and Chris Fusco reported Monday, that request is still on hold. It shouldn’t be. The wheels of justice are known to grind slowly, but in this case they don’t seem to be grinding at all.

In January 2012, the Supreme Court agreed to allow video and audio records in courtrooms “on an experimental, circuit-by-circuit basis.” Since then, cameras have been allowed in judicial circuits that cover 40 of the state’s 102 counties. But not in Cook, which is the biggest county and the only one whose request has gone unanswered. A court spokesman said there is “no specific timetable” for remedying that. (An exception last year was made so MSNBC could videotape prostitutes in a special court for “Sex Slaves: Windy City.”)

At one time, people feared courtroom cameras would encourage grandstanding and make witnesses reluctant to testify. But in general, that isn’t what happened. Instead, being able to watch courtroom proceedings has educated the public about the criminal justice process and has led to more decorum and a better quality of justice. In fact, lawyers say some outlandish antics have been deterred by the knowledge that a camera would record them.

Years ago, cameras were permitted in court, and they were a distraction. Photographers of that era lugged around big Speed Graphics, and every time they took a picture, a flashbulb went off. Today’s video and audio recording devices are unobtrusive, and people participating in a trial often forget the cameras are there.

Some lawyers, primarily on the defense side, are worried that witnesses — who already often try to avoid appearing in court — will have another reason to try to beg off if they know there are cameras waiting for them. But when it’s appropriate, witnesses can petition a judge to keep their images from being recorded.

Judges also have the right to ban cameras altogether for any trial in which they see fit. Other controls are in place to prevent the misuse of materials and invading the jurors’ privacy. Judges also can hold so-called “in camera” proceedings in their chambers, where the news media is not allowed.

Around the nation and the world, the trend is toward allowing electronic recordings. Last October, Britain began permitting broadcasters to film legal arguments and judgments. In South Africa, the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, now underway, is the first criminal trial there at which live cameras have been allowed. In Iowa, cameras have been allowed for 35 years, and last week, the Iowa Supreme Court extended that privilege to include smartphones, laptop computers and electronic tablets.

Citizens are ultimately responsible for what happens in all three branches of government. They can base their judgments on voluminous information from the executive and legislative branches, but not the courts. That doesn’t make sense.

The NATO 3 case is one recent Cook County example that should have been filmed so citizens could see what reporters in attendance saw — that this was a flimsy case that never should have gone to trial with such serious charges.

The video and audio recording of trials, when appropriate, opens up the process. It makes the people involved in courtroom procedures more accountable. It should begin in Cook County without further delay.

Recent Headlines

Chicago health system to add 240+ jobs
Monday, October 15, 2018
Becker's Hospital Review

Village of Northbrook Opts Back In to the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance
Monday, October 15, 2018
National Law Review

Fired doctor sues county, loses whistleblower claim
Friday, October 12, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County health system to add jobs
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

No layoffs or tax hike in mayoral hopeful Preckwinkle’s proposed county budget
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

'Inclusionary' housing ordinance rewrite advances
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Evanston Now

Faced with tight budgets, more Illinois counties merge clerk, recorder offices
Monday, October 08, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Class action: Hundreds of Cook Sheriff officer suspensions invalid, because State's Attorney not involved
Friday, October 05, 2018
Cook County Record

One Cook County judge bucks chief judge’s order against unaffordably high bail
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Game of thrones? Watchdog sees ‘scheme to defraud’ in Pritzker toilet tax break
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County Board approves $31M election equipment contract despite lawsuit; $11M to settle 2 malpractice lawsuits
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm’s lawsuit
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Top prosecutor Kim Foxx apologizes as 18 convictions linked to corrupt cop vacated
Monday, September 24, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Settlement over Cook County's 2007 decision to cut inmates' dental care will cost nearly $5.3 million
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-patronage Shakman pact requiring federal oversight of Cook County hiring, firing to end
Friday, August 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.