Some Cook County judges choosing to hold face-to-face hearings despite pandemic

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CHICAGO — Despite an order to hold court proceedings remotely some Cook County judges are choosing face-to-face hearings.

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge, Chief Judge Tim Evans imposed an order asking that judges hold proceedings remotely, only allowing in-person hearings under “extraordinary” circumstances. 

Despite that order, WGN News cameras captured a line of people waiting to get inside the Harrison and Kedzie courtroom on Wednesday.  Some of them were simply checking in after being placed on an electronic monitor.  

Sarah Staudt with Chicago Appleseed said “each judge is making different rules about some of the ways that COVID is handled.  Whether people wear masks when they appear in court or whether they need to show up.”

Appleseed fears the courts could be contributing to the spread of the virus since they have a direct link to the Cook County Jail, which was considered a COVID-19 hot spot at the start of the pandemic. 

A spokesperson with Evans said, “when people show up at the court, we have to allow them access to justice.”      

So far, 17 judges or 5 percent of the Cook County judges have tested positive for the virus.

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