Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Belmont/Western courthouse to close early next year, chief judge says

The branch courthouse at Belmont and Western will close early next year. | Google
The Cook County courthouse at Belmont and Western will likely close in January, according to budget testimony this week by Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy C. Evans. Misdemeanor cases and felony preliminary hearings that would ordinarily be heard at the North Side courthouse will soon be handled in courthouses at 5555 West Grand or suburban Skokie, Evans said.

Evans agreed to close the courts at 2452 West Belmont as part of budget cuts. Another courthouse in the South Side’s Fuller Park neighborhood is also being shuttered.

Victims and defendants involved in crimes on the North Side will soon find themselves traveling to either Belmont-Cragin or Skokie for some or all of their court dates. The Branch 29 courthouse at Belmont and Western handles misdemeanor cases in their entirety under Judge Anthony Calabrese. Branch 42 in the same courthouse handles preliminary felony hearings under Judge Marvin Luckman.

Despite having two fewer courthouses to operate next year, Judge Evans is asking the county to increase his budget by $18 million.

Evans told the county that he did not have the tools necessary to properly operate the pre-trial electronic monitoring system which has become overburdened since Evans unveiled his “affordable bail” program last year.

Evans’ spokesperson, Pat Milhizer said staff members in the court’s pre-trial services division are electronically monitoring 72 defendants each, according to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. That load is 44% higher than recommended, the paper said.
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