Recently Retired Cook County Judge Marvin Luckman passed away

I am sorry to report that long-time, former Cook County Judge Marvin Luckman has passed away at the age of 87.  He was on the bench from 1992 through 2018, serving mostly in Cook County criminal courtrooms.

He was always a pleasure to appear before.  He was a no-nonsense judge, who knew the law and also had good common sense. He also told great stories.  He will be missed by all.

Cook County Courts to move into next phase of re-opening July 6th

Chief Judge Timothy Evans issued a new Order today regarding the re-opening of Cook County Courts (or not) on July 6th.

Basically, it states that after 7/6, court will resume, but by “video-conference to the extent reasonably possible.”  It also states that in the suburban districts all in-person hearings for misdemeanor and traffic cases will be continued.  I am awaiting information regarding additional Zoom courtroom set-ups for the suburban districts.

When there will be in-person court hearings, they are to be staggered to try to avoid having too many people at the same time and there will be limits on the number of people allowed in a courtroom.  There will be temperature checks and other rules, such as only allowing only four people in a courthouse elevator at the same time.

If the parties agree, bench trials will be permitted via video-conference.

I can add that most civil matters are being rescheduled for long dates.  Earlier this week, I received notification that the next status date in a personal injury case that I am handling has been rescheduled from the end of July to mid-March.  Also, all mortgage foreclosures and evictions are stayed until after July 31st.

Fourth Floor Daley Center major courtrooms to resume next week via Zoom

Today, Presiding Judge Kenneth Wright entered an Order which calls for the resumption of major Chicago traffic rooms beginning next week.  These are the courtrooms that hear Class A misdemeanor traffic matters such as DUI, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and aggravated speeding.  Cases that were assigned to courtrooms 402, 404, 405, 406 and 408 will hear cases via Zoom.  Only attorneys are required to appear, defendants and officers are excused (unless a defendant wishes to appear, in which case his or her attorney can provide him or her with the Zoom code).

I will not post the order here, because it contains the Zoom sign-in information.  If you are an attorney who wants a copy, send me an email at HaroldWallin@gmail.com.

Two Cook County Judges at Bridgeview Courthouse test positive for COVID-19

These are the first Cook County Judges to test positive for the Coronavirus.  Earlier this month, a Judge in Lake County in Waukegan tested positive.

Here is a link to the story from the Chicago Sun-Times.

Cook County extends court closure through July 6th

Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans has signed a new order extending the COVID-19 shutdown through July 6th, so that the court can have more time to set up Zoom accounts in each courtroom.

What is left unclear at this time is whether the 50 courtrooms that currently have Zoom accounts will be allowed to proceed with basic hearings such as misdemeanor pleas using the service.

Hopefully, more details will be released soon.

Here is a link to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin with more information.

Cook County is working on resuming Court on June 1st, but mostly through Zoom

Today, practitioners got some news about Cook County’s plans to resume court on June 1st, through meetings sponsored by the Chicago Bar Association and the Northwest Suburban Bar Association.  The meetings were conducted on Zoom.  I was able to attend the CBA meeting, and listen to Presiding Judge LeRoy Martin, Jr. speak about plans for the Criminal Division.  Due to Zoom limitations on the number of attendees, I was unable to sit in the NWSBA meeting, but I have heard some news from members and the video will be posted sometime soon.  I will update this blog if new information arises.

Also today, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an Order and guidelines for re-opening, which you can find here.  In summary, the Court recommends resuming operations, but encourages remote court appearances as much as possible, recommended that the Court prioritize certain cases and laid out safety precautions for courts to follow.

As for Cook County, expect each Division to announce its new rules sometime next week.  Presiding Judge Martin said that in the Criminal Division counsel should prioritize cases, with pleas (especially pleas for people already in custody) taking precedence.  He asked that counsel email State’s Attorneys to work out discovery issues, continuance dates and pleas in advance of court appearances.

Presiding Judge Martin said that he expects that each courtroom will hold hearings remotely through Zoom.  The details of how this will be handles have yet to be worked out.  He hopes to get resume bench trials sometime soon.

My understanding from the Northwest Suburban Bar Association meeting is that Rolling Meadows will have 12 courtrooms operating remotely via Zoom.  At this time, t don’t know the details of how this will work in practice, particularly in regards to pro se traffic, domestic and civil matters.

Updates to come as more information becomes available.

Update on May 22:  I have been contacted by an Assistant State’s Attorney who works at the Daley Center in Chicago.  He advised me that for the first two weeks of June, the Court will be only hearing cases where the Defendant is expected to enter a guilty plea.  He requested that if I had any such cases, that I should provide him with the information in advance so that the court hearing could be scheduled.  It will be conducted remotely through Zoom.  If you are an attorney who has such a case, contact me and I will forward you the ASA’s contacct information.

Cook County extends COVID19 Court Closure through May 31st

Chief Judge Timothy Evans has extended the closure of Cook County courts (with certain exceptions) through May 31st, putting it in line with yesterday’s extension of Governor Pritzker’s “shelter in place” executive order.

Misdemeanor cases will be continued to the next “key date” and other cases will be continued based on continuance schedules to be issued by the Courts.

You can read the order here:  http://www.cookcountycourt.org/Portals/0/5_1_20%20GAO.pdf?ver=2020-05-01-115729-743&fbclid=IwAR0XBpEVKVQEL6Zm_bE7ypPzge9Q3AiaiAiwOR431KP7MukfCXC20K9mda8

If you are one of my clients, I will notify you of your new court date either by text or email.

Cook County extends COVID-19 court closure through May 18

Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced that the Cook County court closures, which began on March 17th and was originally going to last through April 15th has now been extended an additional month, through May 18th.  Judge Evans Order can be found here.

This comes at the same time as news reports about multiple court clerks and sheriffs, plus at least one public defender, one state’s attorney and over 100 inmates at the County Jail have been infected by the Coronavirus.  At least one inmate has died as a result.

Misdemeanor cases will be continued to the next “key date” after May 18th, and other cases will be continued according to a schedule to be announced.  If you are one of my clients, expect a text or email from me with your new court date. Otherwise, expect a postcard from the Court Clerk.

Courts take action to prevent spread of Coronavirus

As I sat in court the other day, in a packed courtroom filled with coughing and sneezing people (including myself and the judge), I received a message from another attorney that there was a rumor spreading about a member of the bench being diagnosed with COVID-19.  This rumor is still unconfirmed, but still, the idea that the courts would remain open in the midst of this spreading pandemic, was quite aggravating.  People feel compelled to appear in court, to avoid a warrant, a default judgment, having their case dismissed or some other bad legal outcome, and keeping the courts open means that those people will feel the need to come to court.  Some of them (perhaps unknowingly) will have the virus, and others will catch the virus, and then spread it throughout the rest of our community at large.  It is for these reasons that health experts have implored authorities to shut down large gatherings.

Even with our schools and major sports leagues shutting down, courts were still punishing people for failing to appear.  On Friday, I sat in a Chicago misdemeanor courtroom where a judge was issuing warrants.

Finally, some action has been taken.  Cook County has announced that it will suspend most court activities beginning Tuesday March 17th, through April 15th.

From Chief Judge Timothy Evans:

Many criminal and civil cases in the Circuit Court of Cook County will be postponed for a 30-day period starting Tuesday (March 17) due to the spread of the coronavirus, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced today.

Court operations will proceed as scheduled on Monday (March 16). The 30-day period runs from March 17 through April 15….

No jury trials in criminal or civil matters will begin in the 30 days. Individuals who have been summoned to jury duty from March 17 through April 15 should not report for jury duty. They will receive a new date for service.

Grand jury proceedings will continue during the 30 days, and the proceedings may be held in courtrooms to provide more space and distance between people. Individuals who are currently serving in grand jury proceedings must report to court.

For all adult criminal cases, all trials and many hearings scheduled for the 30 days are postponed to a future date. Hearings that will proceed in the 30 days include bail hearings, arraignments and preliminary hearings. In addition, defendants may continue to enter into plea agreements to conclude their case. Any pretrial defendant may also request a bail review during this time.

In addition, for the 30 days, low-risk and medium-risk adults on probation do not need to meet with their probation officer in person. Probation officers have contacted clients to inform them that they will schedule meetings to be held either via video conferencing or phone conversation. Clients deemed high-risk will still be required to report to their probation officers in person.

All traffic and misdemeanor matters scheduled in the 30 days are postponed to a future date.

For delinquency and criminal proceedings involving juveniles, the only matters that will occur during the 30 days are demands for trial and detention hearings that determine if a juvenile is held in custody while the case is pending.

Judges will hear cases of child abuse or neglect in which the state seeks protective custody of a child, and judges will hear emergency motions in which children are allegedly abused in foster care.

For domestic violence matters, petitioners may seek orders of protection during the 30 days.Litigants may also seek an order of protection related to an existing civil domestic relations case (such as dissolution of marriage). Emergency petitions may also be filed in child-support matters.

For the 30-day period, all civil matters not deemed an emergency by party agreement are postponed to a future date. Emergency requests in civil matters will be permitted.

No orders for an eviction or foreclosure will be entered during the 30-day period.

Civil lawsuits may still be filed in person or via electronic filing.

For the 30 days, all courthouse Children’s Rooms will be closed. Individuals who have court business should not bring children to court.

After marriage ceremonies conclude Monday, March 16, judges will not perform marriage ceremonies during the 30-day period.

Though there will be fewer cases, all courthouses will remain open for the 30 days. Court employees who do not need to be in a courtroom or office will be encouraged to work remotely during this time.

In addition, Lake County has announced that it will close the Park City and Mundelein field courts on Thursday, March 19th and Friday March 20th, and Kane County has announced that it will close its branch courts beginning Monday March 16th through March 27th.  Their main courthouses in Waukegan and St. Charles remain open.  No word yet from DuPage County.

I will update this as news becomes available.

Chicago Bar Association’s Judicial Evaluation Ratings have been Released for the March, 2020 Primary

The Chicago Bar Association has released its ratings for the March, 2020 primaries.

I have been a long-time member of the Judicial Evaluation Committee, and am currently serving as a Vice Chair.  We have been working on these evaluations for the last eight months or so.  For each candidate that submitted a completed questionnaire, our volunteer members prepared an investigative report, which includes background and reference checks from attorneys who have worked with or were adverse to (or in the case of sitting judges, appeared in front of) the Candidate.  After that, the Candidate was brought before our Committee for a hearing where he or she could discuss his or her career and respond to our questions.

This election cycle, there are candidates for Illinois Supreme Court, Appellate Court and Circuit Court Judges.  Please take a look at our ratings at the CBA website by clicking here.  At the site, you can get our complete “smart guide” findings or the shorter, two page “pocket guide.”