Cook County will have a new
court division devoted exclusively to domestic violence issues
beginning Jan. 19, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced Wednesday.
It is among the recommendations by the blue-ribbon
committee Evans appointed last year to review the county's handling of
domestic violence cases at all five suburban locations including
Rolling Meadows Third Municipal District.
The new division builds upon the circuit court's
efforts to address an ever-increasing number of these cases. Those
efforts began four years ago with the opening of the county's domestic
violence court at 555 W. Harrison St. in Chicago.
"We are saying domestic violence continues to be a
serious threat and deserves the added attention that this new division
will bring to keep all those involved from falling through the cracks
in the system," said Evans in a prepared statement.
The division allows for the expansion of the types of
charges heard by domestic violence judges. It also provides victims
with increased access to civil protection orders and allows them to
obtain protective orders around the clock. It also provide more
intensive court supervision for repeat offenders. Additionally, judges,
prosecutors, public defenders, deputy sheriffs, probation, social
service personnel and clerks working in the division will receive
special training in domestic violence.
Judge Grace G. Dicker, chair of the domestic violence
committee, will preside over the division. Appointed an associate judge
in 1988, Dicker was assigned to the domestic relations division in
1991. Since 1999, she has presided over the domestic violence court at
Skokie's Second Municipal District.
One task confronting the presiding judge will be to
examine the ways the various districts address domestic violence
proceedings and adapt the best of them throughout Cook County making a
"far more effective and efficient system," Evans said.