Tuesday, April 12, 2016

2016 UPDATE ON COURTHOUSE CELL PHONE RULES

After some confusion resulting from the recent removal of cell phone lockers at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, it seems like a good time to review the rules.

Cook County first implemented its courthouse cell phone ban in 2013. The ban is currently limited to the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse, 2600 N. California, Chicago. The ban was in response to security concerns that cell phones were improperly used to photograph witnesses, jurors and judges who would then be intimidated.

The ban prohibits cell phones, laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones and all other devices capable of connecting to the internet or making audio or video recordings. Anyone violating this rule can be held in contempt of court, face a fine or jail time and have their device confiscated.

The Criminal Courthouse does provide a limited number of free storage lockers. But these lockers became difficult to oversee and were possibly used to store contraband, so the county removed them in early April. That lasted about one week and the lockers are now back. The county still recommends leaving your devices at home. The courthouse does provide public phones.

There are several exceptions to the ban. These include: jurors, attorneys and their employees, judges, persons with disabilities, news media, government employees, vendors, repair people and law enforcement. You may also bring your device if you are seeking an order of protection, you are participating in domestic violence counseling or if you are required to wear an electronic home monitoring device. If you fall into one of these categories, you must have proper identification and official business at the courthouse. For more information in Cook County, see Cell Phone and Electronic Communication Device Ban.

DuPage County also bans cell phones or communication devices in the courthouse. See Du Page County Security Information. Lake County allows you to bring in electronic devices, but they must be turned off. See Lake County Courthouse Security Brief.

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.)

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