Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

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:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

   
  The Cook County Law Library is the second largest County law library in the nation.
   
     
     
     



Cook County Court Removes Cellphone Lockers

Tuesday, April 05, 2016
WTTW Chicago Tonight
by Brandis Friedman

To watch this entire piece click here

 

People who took public transportation to the Cook County Court building today at 26th and California were surprised to find that the lockers they used to protect their phones were gone. And with a courthouse cellphone ban in effect, it left many not knowing what to do.

As usual at 9 a.m. on Monday mornings there's a rush of people into the courthouse for various hearings—to support family and friends who have a hearing, maybe they're a witness in a trial.

But as of this morning, the lockers those folks used to store their phones were just removed. And with the cellphone ban, that created quite a few issues.

The public defender's office says some people left and ran home to return those phones, making them very late for court.

But “Chicago Tonight” spoke with a few folks for whom that trip would've been too long. Some were desperate enough to park their phones with the food vendors outside at a couple bucks a phone.

Others just took their chances.

“I met a stranger today to actually hold my phone for me till 11 o’clock,” Waleisha Kendrick said.

“I walked in and the lockers weren’t here, and I was like, ‘what do I do?’ I just asked the officers over there and I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I think they’re going to hold on to it or maybe they’ll let me go in with it. I don’t know yet,” Jerry Schulz said.

FYI: People who were in the courthouse for probation hearings or meetings with their officers were allowed to bring their phones into the courthouse, so Schulz was allowed in with his phone.

Representatives from the sheriff's office were on hand to help Monday, but that won't happen every day.

Sheriff's Communications Director Ben Briet ended up just hanging on to phones for people because no one wants them to miss their court appearances.

Ben Briet“We had an army of sheriff’s staffers, including myself, who were here this morning to sort of case manage, work with these people, knowing that were likely to be problems like this, to try to help them on a case-by-case basis,” Briet said.

“In some cases, we were able to succeed. We would literally send people sprinting to the judge for a certain person to explain the situation, to see if he or she would be willing to make an exception, sign a quick written order allowing person X to have a cellphone in courtroom Y—so occasionally those efforts were successful, more often than not, they were not.”

Cellphones have been banned for members of the public for three years, why this change?

The decision was made by the Cook County Facilities department, which reports to Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's office.

A spokesperson for her office explains that about a year ago, the vendor for those lockers walked away from their contract.

Facilities staff has been managing the lockers, but they've reported instances of weapons or drugs being found in the lockers.

In addition, both Cook County Homeland Security and the sheriff's office expressed concern about the security of having such lockers inside the courthouse.

So, on Feb. 19 Facilities informed the Office of Chief Judge Tim Evans of plans to remove the lockers.

Evans' office sent out a press release on March 18—that’s 10 business days from today, the date it became effective.

Neither the sheriff's office nor the Public Defender Amy Campanelli believes that was enough time for the word to spread as widely as necessary, since not everyone reads the newspaper.

What's more, they're not sure a total ban on cellphones is the best policy.

Amy Campanelli“We think the ban is too broad. It’s just oversweeping, it doesn’t take into account people need their phones, they need to communicate with their lawyers, with their family members. Perhaps, they’re running late after court and they have to take care of their day care situation or a sick parent at home,” Campanelli said.

“Everybody needs their phone. It’s just too broad and it doesn’t prevent things from happening. We have the sheriffs in the courtroom who keep order, and in the beginning of court when they open court, they tell everyone, ‘you must put your phone away. You must turn your phone off. Do not take it out.’ And that’s what the sheriffs are for.”

A spokesperson for Chief Judge Tim Evans' office says that the cellphone ban in the courtroom was issued back in 2013 to protect witnesses, attorneys and judges from intimidation.

And they say the sheriff's office recently told them that its deputies still would not be able to prevent people from secretly recording video or audio if everyone were allowed to keep their phones.

Follow Brandis Friedman on Twitter: @BrandisFriedman



Recent Headlines

Cook County circuit clerk says city owes $13M in fees
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Chciago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County faces $177 million in deficits over next two budget years
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle: Cook County facing 'difficult and challenging' $82 million budget shortfall
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle: $82M Budget Hole Means ‘Difficult Choices’ For Cook County
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Editorial: A Chicago revival: The Lazarus of Harrison Street
Friday, June 15, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Growing food, community
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Help Squad: Consumers can file lawsuits and other legal documents online —some free via an online fee waiver
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Residents speak out as Wilmette Board introduces minimum wage and sick time ordinances
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County's bid to avoid attorney fees for paraplegic detainee backfires
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Forest Preserves Show Off To Visitors At Daley Plaza
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WBBW News Radio

Peek Inside the Old Cook County Hospital, Vacant for 16 Years
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
NBC Chicago

After 16 years, renovation underway at old Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WGN Television

Officials break ground on $1 billion overhaul of long-vacant Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

George Leighton, legendary Chicago judge and courthouse namesake, dies at 105
Thursday, June 07, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

George Leighton, Chicago judge for whom criminal courthouse is named, dies at 105
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County allows video gambling in unincorporated areas
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Backpage.com lawsuit against Cook County sheriff dismissed
Saturday, June 02, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Dorothy Brown’s office to get federal monitor for hiring practices
Friday, June 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Coyote puppies tagged, health work-ups conducted in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

EDITORIAL: Justice delayed 16 months — until a reporter starts nosing around
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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