Friday, May 18, 2012

WHY IS MY CHICAGO FELONY CASE IN SKOKIE?

You seldom set foot out of the city. You live in Chicago, the crime you allegedly committed took place in Chicago, Chicago police arrested you, and your bond hearing was held in Chicago. But now, you’re heading for your first court date at some place in Skokie or Bridgeview.

Why isn’t your felony case being handled in Chicago?

In Cook County, Chicago felony cases are generally assigned to the Criminal Courts Building at 2600 S. California. However, Chicago is the third largest city in the United States, and that means a comparably large number of felony cases that go through one relatively small building.

According to a 2007 study by the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, Chicago’s criminal court system handles more than 28,000 felonies per year. Probation handles 23,000 cases per year and the neighboring jail harbors 10,000 inmates awaiting trial. (A Report on Chicago's Felony Courts.) All this falls on the shoulders of the 29 judges currently listed for that courthouse. (Cook County Court Directory.) The 2007 study found that each judge had an average of 275 cases pending at any one time, with little time available for trials.

As a result, something had to give. Any felony case overflow is directed to two suburban courthouses. If your offense took place south of Madison Street, then you could be assigned to the Bridgeview Courthouse at 10220 S. 76th Street. If your offense was north, you may be appearing at the Skokie Courthouse at 5600 Old Orchard Road.

No matter where your case may be heard, it is essential to have an experienced criminal law attorney who is familiar with the judges in that courthouse. Many a defense strategy is based on gauging how a judge might react to your individual situation.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)