DuPage, Lake Counties follow Cook County’s lead and (mostly) shut down court. Also Secretary of State and Federal Court

After holding off until this afternoon, both DuPage and Lake Counties announced today that they will suspend most court operations beginning tomorrow, March 17th due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The order in DuPage County is in effect until April 17th and in Lake until further notice.

As with other courts, there will still be some cases heard, particularly bond court and emergency motions.  Both DuPage and Lake will provide courtrooms for cases where there are speedy trial demands (where the parties cannot agree on a continuance).  Also, DuPage will continue to hold court for arraignments.

The full order can be found on the DuPage County Court website.

Lake County’s order can be found on its website.

Federal Court is also slowing down.  Here is a link to the Northern District of Illinois’ site where you can get all the information.

Also, I am told that the Secretary of State will not be conducting any hearings until at least April 1st.

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.

Police to begin aggressive DUI enforcement for Halloween beginning Oct 19

From the Patch:

The Buffalo Grove Police Department will be on the lookout for drunken drivers over the Halloween holiday. An “aggressive” enforcement effort will kick off on Oct. 19 and continue through Nov. 3, according to a news release from the police department.

Read the entire story at:  https://patch.com/illinois/buffalogrove/police-conduct-aggressive-dui-detail-over-halloween-cops

Lake County IL introduces new pilot program to help people clear their suspended licenses

Lake County Celebrates Road to Reinstatement Pilot Program Milestone

Lake County Board members, along with other elected officials, and the public gathered this morning to celebrate a milestone in the County’s innovative Road to Reinstatement Driver’s License Pilot Program.

The program is the culmination of a concerted effort led by Vice-Chair Mary Ross-Cunningham on behalf of the Lake County Board to address at the local level an issue that is experienced by many low-income individuals nationwide: the loss of their driver’s license because of an inability to pay outstanding fees and fines.

Nationally, approximately 40 percent of individuals who lose their driver’s license do so for reasons unrelated to improper driving. Losing a license has consequences beyond not being able to drive. It can impede an individual’s ability to commute to a job and earn a living to support themselves and their families.

To combat this issue, the Lake County Board, with support of other partners, initiated the Road to Reinstatement Driver’s License Pilot Program in 2019. The program provides qualified individuals with a process to request a reduction in their outstanding fees and fines.

“We know that many individuals in our communities face a barrier to employment due to their inability to pay fees and fines that they have accumulated,” said Lake County Board Vice-Chair Mary Ross-Cunningham. “We are proud to be the first county in the state to implement a program that is necessary for our communities.”

Lake County introduced the pilot program in February, when individuals throughout Lake County participated in a driver’s education session, where they also received resources and information related to employment and training.

In March, participants completed applications and met with volunteer attorneys from the Lake County Bar Association throughout the summer to determine their eligibility.

“We recognize that it is fundamentally inconsistent with the ends of justice for citizens of this county to lose their driving privileges solely because they cannot afford to pay outstanding fines and court costs on minor traffic violations,” said Donald J. Morrison, one of the volunteer attorneys who worked with the program. “The Lake County Bar Association has been proud to offer the volunteer services of its members to support this vital driver’s license reinstatement program to help insure equal access to driver’s license privileges for all citizens of Lake County.”

The milestone celebrated today was the court call, where approximately 20 participants who successfully completed the application process were able to request a reduction in their outstanding fees and fines, which when paid, would allow them to renew or reinstate their license.

About 80 applications were initially received for the program. Individuals were not eligible if they had traffic offenses such as DUI citations or felony charges, were habitual offenders, had their license suspended because of a child support issue, or had citations issued outside of Lake County.

“Many households nationwide are impacted by the cycle of debt created by compounding fees and fines,” said Lake County Board Chair Sandy Hart. “I am proud of the work of Vice-Chair Cunningham and the County Board, our staff, and our many dedicated partners who worked tirelessly to make the Road to Reinstatement Pilot program a reality.”

Lake County (IL) will waive past due court fees for one week only starting July 15

From the Libertyville Patch:

LAKE COUNTY, IL — Past due fines owed in criminal and traffic cases in Lake County will be waived as part of the county’s amnesty week, officials said. Lake County Amnesty Week will run from July 15 to July 19 and is run in conjunction with the Lake County Circuit Clerk’s Office and the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

“During the week-long period, all collection fees and accrued interest will be waived on any past due fines owed on criminal and traffic matters in Lake County,” according to a news release…

Full or partial payments are accepted either over the phone or at any of our branch court locations. The Lake County Circuit Clerk has more information on Amnesty Week available on its website.

Lake Zurich Trustee Beaudoin arrested for DUI

From the Daily Herald:

Lake Zurich Trustee Jim Beaudoin was charged with DUI last Thursday after police say he crashed his car into a sign post and a tree near the intersection of Prairie Lane and Cedar Street in the Heatherleigh subdivision near his Lake Zurich home.

Beaudoin, who was first elected to the village board in 2013, did not respond for comment Tuesday.

According to Lake Zurich police documents, at around 6:20 p.m. Beaudoin was driving west on Cedar Street and attempted to make a left-hand turn onto Prairie Lane. He took the turn too wide, left the roadway, and his gray Audi A4 ran over a “No Outlet” sign and hit a tree.

According to statements given to police by several witnesses, whose names were redacted from the report, Beaudoin exited his car, surveyed the damage and threw some of the debris — including the sign, which had come detached from its post — into the back seat of his car. One witness in the report said that Beaudoin threw his hands in the air and appeared to be talking to himself, and another witness said he looked stressed.

Beaudoin then began walking away from the vehicle, reports said. A Lake Zurich police officer arrived on the scene and found that there was no driver. A nearby resident told the officer what the driver of the car looked like, and the officer set off south on Prairie Lane searching for him. Eventually the officer found Beaudoin, who lives on the 500 block of Dunhill Drive, near the intersection of Prairie Lane and Dunhill Drive, the reports said.

The officer asked Beaudoin what had happened, and Beaudoin’s response was redacted from the officer’s police report. The officer then asked Beaudoin if he needed an ambulance and Beaudoin declined. The officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Beaudoin’s breath as he spoke, reports said.

Another officer asked Beaudoin to perform a field sobriety test. What Beaudoin said and how he performed on the test was redacted from the police report. The officer told Beaudoin that, based on the crash, witness statements, physical evidence at the scene, his physical condition and the results of the field sobriety test, he was under arrest, suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Read the entire story here: https://www.dailyherald.com/news/20190326/lake-zurich-trustee-charged-with-dui-after-crash

Lake County IL pilot program to help Defendants with court fines open through March 29

Exciting news from Lake County, where court fines are very high.  This is copied from a Lake County website:

Road To Reinstatement Pilot Program

Road-to-Reinstatement

Nationwide, individuals are unable to restore or renew their driving privileges based on inability to pay outstanding fees and fines. Unable to drive, this often prevents individuals from obtaining or maintaining employment so they can support themselves and their family. To combat this issue, Vice-Chair Mary Ross Cunningham and the Lake County Board, with support of its partners, are launching the new Road to License Reinstatement Pilot Program, which will provide qualified individuals the ability to get their license renewed or reinstated.

Apply for the Road to Reinstatement Pilot Program

  1. Complete the Personal Information Form and an Application for Waiver of Court Fees 
    Printed copies are also available at the Lake County Building, 18 N. County Street, 9th Floor, Waukegan, IL 60085.
  2. Obtain your Driving Abstract from the Illinois Secretary of State for $12.
  3. Return the completed documents no later than March 29 by email to communications@lakecountyil.gov, or mail or drop off the documents to the Lake County Administrator’s Office, 18 N. County St., 9th Floor, Waukegan, IL 60085.

About the Program

This program will provide Lake County residents who are unable to pay an opportunity to reduce outstanding costs and get their license renewed or reinstated. The following traffic offenses will not be eligible for participation in this program.

  • DUI citations
  • Habitual/dangerous offenders/offenses
  • Felony cases
  • Child support suspension
  • Financial responsibility suspension
  • Insurance suspension
  • Toll violations
  • Unpaid parking tickets
  • Citations issued outside of Lake County

Frequently Asked Questions

When will I know if I qualify for the program?
Applicants will be notified six to eight weeks after the documents are submitted.

How can I submit my documents? 
Fee waivers and driving abstracts from the Illinois Secretary of State can be submitted by email, mail or dropped off at the Lake County Administrator’s Office, 18 N. County Street, 9th Floor, Waukegan, IL 60085

How can I get my driving abstract?
Driving abstracts can be retrieved at a local DMV. Visit a facility or mail an abstract request form. The cost is $12.

When do I have to turn my documents in? 
All documents are due no later than March 29.

Who do I contact for further questions?
Contact Lake County at 847-377-2929