Many criminal, civil cases in Cook County's Circuit Court postponed for 30 days due to COVID-19 outbreak, judge says

COOK COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- Many criminal and civil cases in the Cook County's Circuit Court are being postponed for 30 days to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Chief Judge Timothy Evans on Friday announced the delay of cases, starting March 17 through April 15. Court operations will go on as planned on Monday, March 16.

Evans said no jury trials in criminal or civil matters will begin in the 30 days.

He also said that anyone summoned to jury between March 17 and April 15 shouldn't report for duty. They'll be given a new date to serve.

Grand jury proceedings will still continue during the 30-day period, Evans said in the announcement.

Also, any low- or medium-risk adults on probation will not have to meet with their probation officer in person during the 30 days. Probation officers will instead contact by phone or video conferencing.

The changes come as Illinois prepares to hold its primary election on Tuesday.

After 20 years in office, Dorothy Brown is calling it quits as the Clerk of Cook County's Circuit Court and four Democrats are anxious to replace her by promising to clean up an office that has been under federal investigation, and known for patronage and slow to modernize.

The Clerk's office is responsible for the court system's files and collects court fines and fees.

"Dorothy Brown came in 2000 and the office looks the same way it did back then," said Michael Cabonargi (D) Candidate for Cook Co. Circuit Court Clerk.

"The court system is terribly broken, it operates on carbon paper, that is the state of record keeping, hand written files," Jason Meister- (D) Candidate for Cook Co. Circuit Court Clerk said.

"I've got to get in there and call for an audit," said State Sen. Iris Martinez- (D) Candidate for the Cookf Co. Circuit Court Clerk.

"I'm going to bring integrity, I'm going to bring transparency and accountability," said Richard Boykin (D) Candidate for Cook Co. Circuit Court Clerk.

While all agree to modernize and bring integrity to the 1,400 person office, the focus of this "down ballot" race has shifted to Cook County Democratic Party picked candidate Cabonargi. For years, the former federal prosecutor has been reviewing property tax appeals as the chairman of the County Board of Review. His opponents accuse him of pay to play politics by granting big tax breaks to commercial owners

"You look at the donations he's been getting and from whom you have to question it," Martinez said.

"He has taken hundreds of thousand dollars from people who actually do business before the board of review, property tax lawyers," said Boykin.

"He has received a tremendous amount of money from Madigan interests," Meister said.

Cabonargi denies any wrongdoing and said he doesn't have the means to self-fund a campaign.

"I always fund raise within the law, whatever the law is, I'll follow it," he defended.
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