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Cellphone storage lockers at Cook County courthouses will be back

Monday, April 11, 2016
Chicago Sun-Times
by Rummana Hussain

They’re back.

After storage lockers where Cook County courthouse visitors kept their cellphones were removed on Monday, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced that they would be back next week.

Chaos ensued at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse after the lockers were removed. Many visitors take public transportation and have nowhere to put their cellphones when they arrive at the building, at 26th and California.

Three years ago, the public was banned from bringing cell phones into county courthouses.

The lockers — which were removed due to “safety concerns” from confrontations staff had with people placing contraband in the lockers — will be back at the courthouses on Monday, Evans said in a release Friday.

Frank Shuftan, a spokesman for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, last month pointed out that Facilities Management staff “had to manage these lockers for the past year as a ‘temporary’ measure when a vendor who had been managing them abruptly stopped doing so.”

Unlike before, the lockers will be placed after the security checkpoint at the courthouses, Evans said.

Evans, in his release, said: “I am very pleased to report that the President, Sheriff and my office were able to work collaboratively to reach this agreement. Our plan going forward promotes both public safety and public convenience in the courthouse.”

Evans has explained that he implemented the cellphone ban due to reports of people shooting pictures and video during court proceedings at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse.

He also has cited phones ringing during testimony and use of the devices to text testimony to other witnesses as justification for the ban.

Some people are exempted from the cellphone ban, including current or former judges, licensed attorneys, reporters, government employees, anyone reporting for jury duty and people with disabilities who require electronic devices to communicate and those with orders of protection.



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