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Illinois Supreme Court Discusses Cook County Court System

April 7th, 2014 at 7:00 am

basic court services, Chief Judge Timothy Evans, Cook County court system, defense attorney, Illinois Supreme Court, overcrowded prisons, Supreme Courtrecent article revealed that the Illinois Supreme Court is not pleased with the way criminal suspects are handled in the Cook County court system. The Supreme Court’s report said that those who are charged with a crime needlessly await trial behind bars due to a lack of leadership within the county’s court system and a misunderstanding of basic court services.

Pretrial Services

The report mainly discussed pretrial services, which is a division within the adult probation department. The original purpose of this division was to alleviate the issue of overcrowded prisons by helping determine if defendants should be kept in custody or released pending trial. Pretrial officers are responsible for screening defendants who are brought in by Chicago police in order to make this determination.

The pretrial officers are tasked with interviewing the defendants about their criminal history, mental health, and living arrangements. Their report is then given to the bond court judge, who uses it to decide whether the defendant will appear at future hearings and avoid being arrested again if released. This contributes to the judge’s decision on bail.

The System’s Shortcomings

The report by the Supreme Court of Illinois revealed that the pretrial reports were often unreliable due to time constraints, access to information, and training issues which prevented the bond judge from relying on them too heavily, as they were limited and usually unverified.

Specifically, the report by the Court stated that the work done by pretrial services is either dismissed entirely, or relied on only minimally due to a lack of confidence in the credibility of such work.  This results in defendants, some of whom would have been released, remaining in jail while their case proceeds through the court.

Changes to Come

The Cook County Circuit Court Chief, Judge Timothy Evans, said that some of the problems with pretrial services are due to the department being understaffed and underfunded, although he did say that some changes to the department have already begun. While officials debate where the ultimate blame for the problem lies, one thing is certain: many men and women who have been charged with crimes have suffered because of the flawed system.

The Illinois Supreme Court’s report made 40 recommendations to improve pretrial services in Cook County, and plan to appoint an administrator to oversee the implementation of their plan. The plan focuses on making changes to the existing structure before approving the hiring of additional staff.

Criminal Defense Attorney

It is always imperative to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney when charged with a crime, but it is especially required when flaws in the court system are apparent. A dedicated defense attorney will not only protect your rights, but will fight for justice in instances where an issue in a criminal case may have otherwise been overlooked.

If you or someone you know has been charged with a crime, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today for a consultation. We have successful experience representing clients in Cook County and the surrounding area.

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