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Ban on bringing cellphones, laptops to court at 26th and California starts Monday

Sunday, April 14, 2013
Chicago Sun-Times
by Rummana Hussain

Keep your cellphones and laptops home if you plan on visiting the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

Starting Monday, the ban on the electronic devices will be enforced and those who bring the equipment will be asked to return them to their parked vehicles or place them in storage vending machines. 

Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans was ready to implement the ban at all 13 courthouses three months ago, but after grumbling from Cook County sheriff’s deputies about having little notice to prepare for enforcement of the ban, the start date was delayed. Evans opted for a 90-day grace period as officials sought solutions on where to keep the devices. Currently, there are pay storage machines at 26th and California where visitors can stow, at a price tag of $3, smaller items: cameras, phones and even sharp objects, such as pocket knives. But no extra visible storage space has been added since.

Evans pushed for the ban after hearing judges complain that onlookers were snapping photos of jurors, witnesses and others — an appararent intimidation tactic. The ban will eventually will be rolled out at the remaining 12 facilities where criminal cases are heard.

Those exempt from the ban include, judges, lawyers, reporters, police officers, jurors and those seeking an order of protection. The Daley Center courthouse in the Loop is largely exempted from the ban.



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