This week, Cook County began enforcing its new rule banning the general public from bringing cell phones and other electronic devices into virtually all courthouses except the Daley Center.
But I think I can better demonstrate why this is a mistake by documenting examples of how this works in practice. Here are a few recent examples:
1. A client was taken into custody by a judge. He would need someone to pay $500 to bond him out. I asked him who I should call. He said “my brother.” I asked for his brother’s phone number. Oops, he couldn’t remember the number. Why should he? It was saved on his cell phone. He probably hasn’t “dialed” it since the day he stored it in his phone. I can’t blame him, I am the same way. It didn’t help that his relative’s number wasn’t listed (as most, probably all, cell phone numbers aren’t). Good thing I was able to find a relative’s phone number through a skip tracing service.
2. Last week, I had three cases in three different rooms on two different floors, all scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Except that instead of starting at 9:00, one judge came out on the bench at 9:05, another at 9:25 and a third at 9:45. Oh, and the judges don’t tell anyone in advance when they are coming out. So I could be sitting in one room, thinking that the judge in that room will come out first, while in another room, a judge is on the bench and wondering where I am. Last week, it was a lot easier for me to handle this scenario. I just had my clients text me when court was starting and I could head over to their courtroom. In the past, clients could also text me if they forgot their room number or if they were running late. Not anymore though. How is preventing this helping anyone?