Court TV: Cook County livestreaming court proceedings during coronavirus pandemic

Publishing unedited livestreams of court proceedings is a large step toward transparency in the circuit court, which typically does not allow recording devices in courtrooms.

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The Leighton Criminal Courthouse

On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, the Circuit Court of Cook County began broadcasting some court proceedings to the public online.

Sun-Times file photo

Several Cook County court proceedings started livestreaming on YouTube Wednesday in an effort to limit person-to-person contact during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The goal is to limit the number of individuals in Circuit Court of Cook County courtrooms during this time,” Pat Milhizer, a spokesman for Chief Judge Timothy Evans, said in a statement.

So far, 16 employees of the chief judge’s office have tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Wednesday, courtrooms with livestreams on the circuit court’s webpage were bail reviews in courtrooms 101 and 506 at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

The proceedings are being held on the videoconferencing application Zoom, and then streamed to the public on YouTube.

Bond court proceedings are not currently being livestreamed but are expected to be within a week.

It is prohibited to record or reproduce the livestreams. Anyone who does will be charged with contempt of court, Milhizer said.

Evans on March 30 ordered court proceedings to be transitioned to videoconferencing.

Although, Evans was enthusiastic to participate in a 2012 pilot program allowing cameras in Cook County courtrooms, most court proceedings are not allowed to be recorded without the judge’s permission.

Since the Illinois Supreme Court Extended Media Coverage pilot project became law in 2015, pool cameras have been used in several high profile cases, including the trial of Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke and pre-trial hearings of R & B singer R. Kelly

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