Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.
   
     
     
     



Editorial: Judge Tim Evans, be an enforcer
Assessing the boss of the Cook County Circuit Court, who faces an election

Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Chicago Tribune

An important election in Cook County looms next month, but you don't get to vote in it. The 268 circuit judges in the court system do. They will choose the chief judge, the person who oversees the operations of one of the largest court systems in the world.

The judges will pick their boss by secret ballot Sept. 10.

What's at stake? The future of a court system that has a profound impact on thousands of lives.

Timothy Evans, the former Chicago alderman and candidate for mayor, has served as chief judge since 2001 and he's seeking another three-year term. He easily dispatched another judge who challenged him in 2010, and he doesn't appear to face any competition this year.

We wish, though, that there were a real election, a real debate, because there are real concerns about the operation of this court system.

More than 300 Cook County Jail inmates have been waiting at least five years for their cases to conclude, according to Sheriff Tom Dart. Thousands of defendants have been in jail for six months to five years while their cases lollygag through the system. Last week, a 62-year-old man died of natural causes in his jail cell while he awaited sentencing for a 2007 murder.

It's not just the criminal courts that face delays. There are issues with the civil courts too. Ask anyone who regularly deals with the court system. It's a long, expensive haul from start to finish.

Other problems persist in Cook County's legal system: technology from the Stone Age, resistance to stricter judicial oversight, disputes over the proper use of electronic monitoring of defendants and a continuously overcrowded jail.

These have been issues for decades in the courts. We've seen from experience that when the chief judge takes an easygoing attitude toward court efficiency, cases drag. When the chief judge puts real pressure on the judges in the courtrooms — produce or you'll be transferred to nowhere land — the pace improves.

We admire Evans as a jurist and a civic leader. He does, though, fall on the easygoing side. The judges who let cases languish, who take long lunch breaks then close their courtrooms early in the afternoon, they don't fear him. They have cushy jobs.

That's not fair to the people who are harmed when the court system crawls to conclusion. It's not fair to the defendants, to the victims, to everyone who turns to the civil system to resolve disputes. It's particularly unfair to young people in the juvenile courts.

Evans acknowledges shortcomings in the system, but as he told us in a recent meeting, he believes justice is better served by allowing cases to unfold at their own pace rather than be rushed. He distributes much of the blame for delays on prosecutors and defense attorneys who often ask for continuances.

Dart is responsible for the jail population, Evans says. The Illinois Supreme Court is holding up the county's progress toward electronic case filing, he says. Cook County will get cameras in the courtrooms ... when the Supreme Court finally gives its blessing, he says.

Evans says he has developed a more transparent system to track which judges manage their caseloads efficiently. But he also trusts his judges, who he notes are independently elected, to run their own dockets.

On Wednesday, he released to us records that show significant differences in the case clearance rates of his judges. That data release is to his credit — now let's see how he handles those judges who clearly are identified as laggards.

The chief judge has made some creative reforms and has generally sound priorities. But what's sorely missing is a sense of urgency. He needs to be the enforcer on his judges; his judges need to be the enforcers in their courtrooms. For starters, those judges all need to put in a full day's work.

That's why we wish there were a vigorous, public election for this office. We'd like to see Evans pushed to defend the pace and progress of the courts. These persistent problems deserve more concerted attention.

Other counties long ago implemented electronic case filing and video conferencing of bond hearings, to improve cost and efficiency. Here, we're still paper and in-person. Even for brief court appearances, inmates have to be transferred between their cells and courthouses, at significant expense. Evans says defendants have a right to confront their accusers; other court leaders say video conferencing has worked extremely well, without infringing on defendants' rights.

Some judges work slowly, some simply don't have the legal ability to do the job. They tend to be protected, though. Other counties put data on the Internet that show how well judges handle their caseloads. We encourage Evans to post online the caseload records he delivered to us. Let the public know what's going on.

Evans has been a solid administrator of the day-to-day management of the massive court system. He is likable, open-minded and fair. But he has been hands-off when it comes to his judges. They enjoy that. No wonder they'll re-elect him.

We urge Judge Evans to act as though he faces the political fight of his life. Be impatient. Make real, tangible change. Enough talking, meeting and studying. Force change



Recent Headlines

Cook County General Hospital's $90-Million Redevelopment Saves a Chicago Icon
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Engineering News Rec ord

Illinois Land Title Association Granted Summary Judgment in Case against Cook County Recorder of Deeds
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Illinois State Bar Association

Grand Jury Indicts Debt Collector of Bribing Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown
Friday, March 15, 2019
WBBM Chicago

Indictment: Cook County's hired debt collector charged with bribing county officials to secure county contract
Friday, March 15, 2019
Cook County record

Karen Chavers Honored as 2019 Unsung Heroine
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Pappas to announce deadline for Cook County property owners to pay late taxes
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Courts Cause Confusion For Woman Trying To Resolve Her Case
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
CBS Chicago

Census changes raise fears of Illinois undercounting
Monday, March 11, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Sheriff Warns of Apple Phone Scam
Monday, March 11, 2019
WTTW News

Caller poses as Apple to get victims personal info in scam targeting Cook County residents
Monday, March 11, 2019
WGN Chicago

Should Young Adults Be Sent To Juvenile Courts?
Sunday, March 10, 2019
NPR Radio

Cook County Jail hires 2nd consecutive mental health professional as warden
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lawsuit: Sheriff jailed dozens because of faulty electronic monitoring devices
Monday, March 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Woman dies while in custody at Cook County Jail
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Fox 32

City considers landmarking old Cook County Hospital
Friday, March 01, 2019
Gazette Chicago

Judge: State constitution doesn't force Cook County to spend $250M more on roads, transport projects
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Cook County Rrecord

City Club of Chicago: Cook County Housing Authority Executive Director Richard Monocchio
Thursday, February 28, 2019
WGN Chicago

Illinois hospitals seek reform of Medicaid managed care system
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Effingham Daily News

Cook County Juvenile Court Clinic’s Annual Report
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Glenview open house a 'one stop service' for new, existing residents to learn about town offerings
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
Glenview Announcements

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP