Cameras allowed inside DuPage County courtroom for high-profile arraignment

A woman accused of killing her son and another child in her Naperville home pled not guilty - on a live broadcast

November 21, 2012

Photographers were allowed inside a DuPage county courtroom Wednesday for the arraignment of Elzbieta Plackowska, who was accused of killing her son and another child in her Naperville home.

It was the highest-profile event yet for a pilot program that allows cameras in some Illinois trial courtrooms.

“I think it advances our efforts to make sure that the public - and not just children - are more familiar with civics,” said John Thies, President of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA).

The ISBA supported Illinois’ pilot program that allows counties to apply to allow cameras inside courtrooms. Thies said media attention increases transparency and public engagement with the court system.

“Most people never are there,” he said, “but our courts play such an important role in society, and in our system of checks and balances.

When the Supreme Court of Illinois announced the program in January 2012, they pointed out that Illinois is one of only 14 states that generally prohibits cameras in trials courts.

DuPage County is the closest county to Chicago to give the program a try since it began in January. The program gives judges discretion over how much and what sorts of media will be allowed at courtroom events.

Judge Robert Kleeman only permitted one video camera and one still camera, and asked them to shoot from a distance. That means the three-minute video mostly shows the defendant and lawyers from behind.

Plackowska pled not guilty to ten counts of first-degree murder.