Sunday, March 15, 2020

Courts postpone majority of operations in Cook County, Illinois

The vast majority of Cook County court operations, both criminal and civil, will be postponed for nearly a month beginning Tuesday as a precaution against coronavirus, the chief judge’s office confirmed, reported the Chicago Tribune.
Courthouses across the county will remain open “though there will be fewer cases,” according to a statement from the office. Regular operations are expected to resume April 15 at the earliest, according to a statement from Chief Judge Timothy Evans’ office.
Attorneys and other court personnel now face the prospect of shuffling around thousands and thousands of criminal cases, from murders to drug possession.
The county court system is not known for its efficiency even in the best of circumstances, and such a delay has the potential to create chaos. Even brief closures last year due to extreme cold weather threw schedules off balance for weeks.
The courts, by design, keep people from all over Cook County in close quarters — in jury rooms, holding cells and courtroom galleries. And such close contact would be expected to accelerate the spread of the disease, officials said.
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