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Suburban courthouses closing on weekends beginning May 5

Thursday, April 19, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times
by Lisa Donovan

Cook County’s suburban courts will close on weekends starting in May as part of a cost-saving measure, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced Wednesday.

Those arrested in the suburbs over the weekend will be shuttled to Chicago to appear before a judge at the 26th and California courthouse starting May 5.

The Bridgeview courthouse began closing on weekends in January, and the remaining four courthouses — Maywood, Markham, Skokie and Rolling Meadows — were to follow.

But the four facilities remained open after suburban law enforcement raised questions about the costs and time involved in taking suspects to bond court in Chicago on weekends.

Now people busted in the ’burbs will be taken to the Markham or Maywood courthouses, which have 24-hour lockups, and Cook County Sheriff’s staff will haul detainees to Chicago.

The delay meant the county didn’t reach its goal of saving $1.9 million by closing the courthouses on weekends.

This year, it will only realize about $500,000 in savings. Preckwinkle’s office said the savings will be found elsewhere.

On average, 87 defendants appear before judges at the five suburban courthouses on Saturdays and 37 appear before a judge on Sundays in the only suburban courthouse that has been holding hearings — Markham, according to statistics provided by county board President Toni Preckwinkle’s office.

The closings also mean no more weekend weddings or civil unions at the suburban courthouses, though marriage court in downtown Chicago — 119 W. Randolph — will remain open on Saturdays.

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