Some judges at Cook County’s main criminal courthouse are refusing new security measures imposed by the sheriff, including mandatory trunk inspections.
According to the Better Government Association, until this past spring, judges and others using the fenced-in, razor wire-lined lot at 26th and California in Chicago were able to breeze through a checkpoint staffed by the sheriff’s office.
Beginning in April, new procedures required everyone driving into the courts complex, including judges, to show their identification and open their trunks on the way in and out of the lot – creating a slight inconvenience, but bringing greater peace of mind knowing inmates are in the courthouse every day and Cook County Jail sits next door, according to the sheriff’s office.
The Association says that the changes haven’t gone over well with many judges --
some judges are refusing to pop their trunks because they view such demands as an unwarranted invasion of privacy, others said they oppose the security changes because they don’t seem logical. Some judges have also resisted showing their IDs to sheriff’s personnel on their way in and out of the lot.
Overall, roughly a dozen judges – about a quarter of the judges in the courthouse any given day – are listed in sheriff’s office paperwork as being verbally abusive.
Dart’s office countered with this statement: "Judge Evans’ reaction is puzzling given that the only response we received was from judges who felt they shouldn’t be subjected to any security measures."
While trunks aren’t searched in off-site parking areas used by the general public, visitors trying to enter the main building are often greeted by long lines leading to metal detectors, where sheriff’s police demand that visitors empty pockets and strip off belts temporarily.