ISBA president shares views on cameras in court

Christina Stueve May 17, 2012, 1:00pm


Illinois State Bar Association President John Locallo believes cameras in the courtroom are "here to stay."

Locallo, a partner in the real estate tax assessment law firm of Amari & Locallo in Chicago, stopped in Edwardsville Thursday for a conversation with the Record.

When the Illinois Supreme Court announced in January that it had approved a pilot project allowing news cameras and electronic news recording, Illinois became the 38th state to allow recording of trial courts.

Madison County applied for the pilot program in February and was approved to participate in the program in March.

"I expect cameras in the courtroom to become part of the normal landscape of trials in Illinois," Locallo said.

"When the public sees the media coverage of courtrooms in Illinois, I believe they will be impressed by the hard work of the judges."

Locallo said Illinois' program is different from other states in that once the chief judge decides he or she wants to be part of the pilot program, the trial judge has the final say as to whether to allow cameras in court.

He said cameras bring a trial to the public.

"This nation has a vast history of the public attending trials in the courtroom and sitting in the gallery, and it shouldn't change, because we live further from away from the courthouse," he said.

The policy states that media must request to use cameras in the courtroom 14 days in advance of the proceeding.

"The only arguments I've heard is one from certain lawyers apprehensive about cameras in the courtroom," Locallo said.

"Their concerns are no different than if a camera was following any other American all day in the workplace. Cameras can put stress on the attorney, but it's no different than having a lot of people in the gallery watching you."

The other objection he has heard is that cameras could change a trial's outcome.

"The media doesn't want to be part of the story either. Nobody wants a mistrial," Locallo said.

A judge can limit the media's accessibility during certain parts of the trial, and the rules limit the filming of various types of trials.
Sexual assault victims cannot be filmed without permission.

"There has to be a balance between the public's right to know and the privacy of the jury and the witnesses and the ability of the litigants to have their day in court," Locallo said.

"This is all part of the sanctity of the courtroom that the media must respect."

Locallo was first elected to the ISBA's 25-member board of governors in May 2004 and re-elected in 2007.

He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1982 and became a certified public accountant the following year. He received his J.D. in 1986 and his LL.M. in taxation in 1992 from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

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