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Man sues Cook County over court security fees

Thursday, March 11, 2010
Daily Herald
by Ted Cox

A Chicago man filed suit Wednesday in an attempt to compel Cook County to staff all courtrooms with deputies.

Steven Marshall filed the suit, which insists that by law the county "is required to provide security for all courthouses and have a deputy present in each courtroom within the circuit court for all hearings."

At root of the issue is a $25 court fee being assessed for appearances, supposedly to provide such security. During the primary campaign, Clerk of the Circuit Court Dorothy Brown boasted of newly imposing such fees, even as Sheriff Tom Dart bemoaned he did not have the budget or staffing to put deputies in each courtroom or even on each floor at the Daley Center courthouse in downtown Chicago.

"You would think that the court system would make sure the courts are staffed, with all this money they're taking in," said Steven Seidman, Marshall's attorney. "The court system should not be a profit center for the general revenue."

"The sheriff has been pleading with the County Board to give him more court deputies," said a Dart spokesman. "So we agree with the suit that we need more."

A spokeswoman for County Board President Todd Stroger declined to comment, saying officials had not yet seen the suit.



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