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Friday, October 02, 2009

Ind. Courts - "Easterbrook Slams CD Illinois Judge For Allowing Cameras in the Courtroom"

From the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette today, a story by Tim Mitchell:

URBANA – U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade has apologized for allowing cameras to record a Champaign schools consent decree hearing in September.

McDade issued the written apology after Judge Frank Easterbrook, chief judge of the 7th Circuit, chided McDade in a written opinion for allowing video and still photography and live broadcasting of a Sept. 15 fairness hearing over the Champaign school district's consent decree.

At least four video cameras, two audio recorders and one still camera recorded the hearing.

The News-Gazette used still and video photography at the hearing. The paper also asked the judge to broaden his initial intent to allow only television cameras into the courtroom, and he granted that request.

n a memo issued on Monday, Easterbrook noted that a copy of one of the video recordings had been posted on the Internet and that photos from the hearing had appeared in the newspaper.

Easterbrook cited an Oct. 15, 1996, policy by the 7th Circuit Judicial Council that said, "The taking of photographs, making of audio or video recordings, or electronic broadcasting of judicial proceedings in or from a court room must not be permitted by any district court in this circuit."

In his opinion, which is available online here, Easterbrook said McDade violated the policy when he allowed cameras at the hearing.

McDade responded with a letter in which he said he believed he could grant an exception to the rule prohibiting cameras.

"Because of the considerable interest in the case by the Champaign community over the past seven years during the existence of the consent decree, I wanted the widest possible dissemination of the hearing," McDade wrote.

McDade said he was wrong to allow the cameras.

"I deeply regret my violation of the policy prohibiting the taking of photographs, making of audio or video recordings or electronic broadcasting of judicial proceedings," McDade were. "I was in clear violation of these policies and will do anything necessary to make amends."

The full text of McDade's letter is available here.

Easterbrook said no party to the hearing was damaged by the recordings and that no one had complained.

Thanks to the WSJ Law Blog, which picked up this Illinois story earlier this afternoon. Here is their post.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on October 2, 2009 01:24 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions