Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

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.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



On the safe side
Better, safer building for victims of domestic violence opens

Thursday, September 29, 2005
Daily Southtown
by Jonathan Lipman

In Cook County's cramped domestic violence courthouse, victims sometimes get backed into corners by their attackers, who yell or plead with them to drop charges.The chaotic and dangerous scene in the building's crowded hallways should be only a memory after the unveiling today of a new custom-designed courthouse in Chicago's Near West Side community.

The new $51 million courthouse will host all criminal misdemeanor domestic violence cases in Chicago, some proceedings for felony domestic violence cases, and civil order of protection cases from throughout the county.

The old building at 13th Street and Michigan Avenue will shut down by Oct. 11, moving all cases to the new facility. Over three years, a 113-year-old warehouse was converted into the bright brick, glass and wood building at 555 W. Harrison St.

"It's the county's oldest building and its newest," said Elizabeth Melas, Cook County's deputy director of capital planning and policy. "We added an atrium and plaza to the north and made the back (of the building) the front. It's 90 percent new."

Last year, 26,954 orders of protection and 12,477 criminal domestic violence cases were filed in Cook County.

Along with "victim safe" waiting spaces, the new courthouse promises better child care, 10 spacious courtrooms and a combination of services not possible in the old office building on Michigan Avenue, which has served as the domestic violence courthouse for 28 years.

"The (old) building, architecturally, was not structured to be a court. They made it into a court," said Vickii Coffey, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network.

"It's an old building to boot," said Dawn Dalton, director of the Jane Addams Hull House Association's domestic violence court advocacy program. "Last week, we only had one elevator working, and they're very small to begin with."

The small elevators are more than an inconvenience. Dalton said some of the worst victim intimidation takes place there.

"If you're a victim and your abuser is sardined next to you ... the opportunity to continue to threaten that victim is just ripe," Dalton said.

Even when a victim's alleged attacker is in jail, Dalton said, "the abuser's family comes up to the victim and says things like, 'If you don't drop the charges, we're going to come after you.' It's a real volatile environment."

At the new courthouse, everyone coming in will be sorted by gender and status at the door by sheriff's staff. Victims will be allowed into a segregated lobby, where a battery of social and court services will be available. From there, they can take a private elevator up to separate waiting rooms.

"They don't need to go into the public space again until their case is called," Dalton said.

Also important to victims is what Melas called "one-stop shopping." While criminal cases are now heard at 1340 S. Michigan, civil court orders of protection are heard at 28 N. Clark St.

"Lots of times what happens is women may come to the court building not knowing what option they want to implement," Coffey said. "Once they get there, they may make that decision and then find this is not the place they can do it. And then that may be a reason not to pursue (action)."

Child care facilities also are being upgraded, Melas said, with an attached clinic that will screen children for physical and emotional problems.

The site of the new courthouse was controversial in 2002. County commissioners originally voted to build it downtown, along the Chicago River. But Mayor Richard Daley objected, saying the valuable site should stay on the tax rolls, and a courthouse didn't match his vision for riverfront development.

Although it meant more expense and an additional year, the county quickly agreed to the West Loop site, which is less accessible by public transportation than a downtown site.

But the building has opened on schedule and $13 million under budget.

"It's just a beautiful building," said Commissioner Deborah Sims, who led the committee overseeing the project. "If we haven't done anything else good this year, this building is a good building."



Recent Headlines

Pappas: There's help for senior citizens struggling to pay Cook County property taxes
Friday, December 14, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: “Abject moral and human rights failure”
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Capitol Fax

Borrow $10B to help stabilize city pensions along with legal pot, casino and benefit cuts: Rahm
Thursday, December 13, 2018
The Daily Line

CTA Moves Forward with Major Red Line Projects:
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County repeals lower parking-app tax rate
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

How local suburbs voted in Cook County minimum wage/paid sick leave advisory referenda
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Bugel

Cook County restores tax on parking apps before January cut took effect
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County Board to take on taxes,toilets at Wednesday meeting
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

PRECKWINKLE’s tax tweak — Details on BURKE raids — State REPUBLICANS look for hope — SUMMERS’ tirade
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Illinois Politico

Woman, 19, arrested after escaping police custody at Cook County courthouse
Sunday, December 09, 2018
WLS ABC Chicago 7

Here's an exciting prospect: A boring assessor's office
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Sheriff starts unique inmate program to combat Chicago's gun epidemic
Thursday, December 06, 2018
RTV 6 Indianapolis

Staff feud at tax appeals board turns nasty
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Tax Bills Posted Online Three Months Early
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
CBS Chicago

County Board makes it easier to choose Preckwinkle successor
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

New Cook County assessor vows end to favoritism as he takes office
Monday, December 03, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

New Cook County Board members sworn in Monday
Monday, December 03, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County referendums: 'Yes' to everything
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Chicago City Wire

Glenview to discuss Cook County minimum wage, paid sick leave ordinances in December
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wilmette reverses course, fully adopts both county minimum wage and sick time rules
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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