News

Electronics ban starts today at Cook County courthouse

A crackdown on cellphones and other electronics in Cook County criminal courthouses begins Monday at the busiest criminal court facility in the country.

The ban on smartphones, computer tablets and other electronic devices takes effect Monday at the Leighton Criminal Court Building at 26th Street and California Avenue.

The hard-line policy was set to begin in January, but Circuit Chief Judge Timothy Evans delayed its implementation for three months after critics attacked the plan.

After the announcement last December, other county officials appeared caught by surprise by the change and expressed concern mostly about a shortage of kiosks for cellphone storage. Evans offered the three-month grace period to work out those kinks.

At the criminal courthouse at 26th and California, three cash-operated vending machine-style units, each able to hold 60 cellphones — at a cost of $3 a pop — have been set up, said sheriff's spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis.

The spokeswoman said the sheriff's office has no idea what to expect Monday at 26th and California.

"We're just hoping that the word gets out" about the ban, Demertzis said.

Deputies will not allow anyone with a cellphone inside the courthouse once the storage space runs out, she said.

Eventually the ban will be extended to 12 other criminal court facilities, but Evans' office offered no timetable for that.

Current and former judges, attorneys, government employees, reporters and people reporting to jury duty are among those exempt from the ban.

Cellphones will still be allowed in the Daley Center, where mostly civil matters are handled.

Evans insists the policy is designed to safeguard criminal courthouses, but he has offered few details to support the need for the ban. His office said he was unavailable Thursday to take questions.

When he first announced the change in December, Evans said some judges had complained that spectators in courtrooms had photographed witnesses, jurors and judges and in other instances had texted testimony to upcoming witnesses waiting outside.

When asked for specifics, his office said Thursday it did not track that information.

"This ban is important to uphold our justice system and the safety of our courts," a news release quoted Evans as saying. "Intimidation will not be tolerated."

jmdelgado@tribune.com

Twitter: @jendelgado1

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
Related Content
  • Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    Grateful Dead drummer dishes dirt, drug dependency in new book

    As a founding member of the Grateful Dead, Bill Kreutzmann watched the world change from behind his drum kit, shoveling coal in the wildly tribal rhythm section as the Dead went from San Francisco underground curio to ground-breaking indie outfit, then progenitor of the improvisation-based rock...

  • Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    Book comes out ahead of Grateful Dead farewell concerts in Chicago this weekend

    The three clichés that color every good rock star story is “sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll." For the Grateful Dead, the trailblazing rock band known for its improvisational style, revelatory live shows and dedicated fanbase, there was that and so much more.

  • 10 best movies of 2015 so far

    10 best movies of 2015 so far

    The year’s half-over! How did that happen? No idea. With six months of a good year of movies in the books, let’s see how the Top 10 list is looking, with a quote from each respective review. Note: There are a few I’ve seen that I really like that haven’t yet opened in Chicago, and those aren’t...

  • If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    If you make less than $50,440, proposal could increase overtime pay

    Nearly 5 million more Americans would qualify for overtime pay under new rules proposed Tuesday by the Obama administration, a long-anticipated move expected to affect a broad swath of salaried employees from store managers to social workers to restaurant shift supervisors.

  • Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Chicago's minimum wage increase attracting workers to city

    Unlike previous summers, UniStaff is experiencing a spike in job applicants at its Little Village location, a trend the branch manager says is tied to the city's minimum wage increase to $10 per hour beginning Wednesday.

  • 'The Bachelorette' episode 7 recap: How many meltdowns can Shawn have in one week?

    'The Bachelorette' episode 7 recap: How many meltdowns can Shawn have in one week?

    Welcome to RedEye’s coverage of “The Bachelorette,” arguably the most misogynistic show on television! The format is pretty simple: Five women of RedEye each drafted five of the 25 competing men. Everyone gets one point for every man who gets through each week. If you ever want your daughter to...

Comments
Loading