I’m from a really small town in northwestern Illinois that I know you have never heard of. It’s a little safe haven surrounded by miles and miles of corn. Everyone knows everyone and everything about each other too. Not a lot really goes down in Whiteside County.
So during my junior year of high school when there was a serial killer in my county, you can only imagine how big of an impact it made. Nicholas Sheley robbed and murdered eight people. Almost four years later, his killings will not only be remembered for the lives of the love ones we lost in our community, but his court room trials may change history in the state of Illinois.
It used to be that Illinois did not permit any photography or audio recordings in state trial courtrooms. Illinois is one of the fourteen states left where cameras are still not allowed in courtrooms.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the Nick Sheley case is one of a kind being the first prominent case with media footage in an Illinois courtroom. His trial is the biggest test conducted to this day out of a 9-month experiment that will allow photography, audio recordings and video footage in Illinois state courtrooms.
Sheley’s trial in the Whiteside County Court, located in Morrison, IL, is the guinea pig. If everything goes smoothly, in the future a law could potentially be implemented for this policy to go statewide. You could expect to see media coverage in the Cook County courtrooms by the end of the year.
This allows for there to be up to date coverage. A local reporter from Whiteside County has been posting tweets almost every minute to Twitter to keep followers in the loop. Also, it gives people a real life perspective to what actually goes down in the courtrooms. Instead of watching televised dramas like Law & Order, citizens of Illinois will be able to see how their county court handles hearings.
There are still some restrictions to the policies stated in the Quincy Journal that are as follows:
- “Jurors and potential jurors may not be photographed.
- Cameras and recording devices will not be allowed in juvenile, divorce, adoption, child custody and evidence suppression cases.
- No more than two television cameras and no more that two still photographers will be allowed in a courtroom at one time.
- Victims of violent felonies, police informants and relocated witnesses may request that the judge prohibit them from being photographed.”
Said restrictions were created with everyone’s safety in mind.