Nonprofit says protection orders for abuse victims are being delayed, sues Cook County Court Clerk

WGN Investigates

CHICAGO — A new lawsuit filed against Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown claims her office is failing to take a key step to protect domestic violence victims.

Legal Aid Chicago said Tuesday its suing the court clerk, saying her office isn’t meeting its legal duty to provide orders of protection to domestic violence victims immediately after they’re granted.  They say it’s been a huge problem since the pandemic began, potentially impacting hundreds of people.

After the clerk’s office reopened amidst the pandemic, many people reported they went to the Daley Center in downtown Chicago for court appearances, only to find out they’re being handled entirely online or over the phone. Some said they learned of the remote hearing after the fact.

“Everything a survivor has done up until that point is meaningless because she can’t prove to anyone that she has that protection and if she calls the police and says, ‘I need your help, he’s here, she’s here and I’m in danger,’ they’ll look that up in their system and find nothing, so it is as if that person – that survivor of abuse – had never gone to court at all,” said Benna Crawford, Legal Aid Chicago.

Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s office did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment about her staff’s handling of orders of protection.

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