Chief Judge Evans announces Circuit Court of Cook County Committee on Domestic Violence Court

Released On 08/21/2008

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans today announced he has entered an order establishing the Circuit Court of Cook County Committee on Domestic Violence Court and that he has appointed a veteran Domestic Relations Division judge, Honorable Grace G. Dickler, to serve as the Committee’s Chair.

Chief Judge Evans said, “When it opened in October 2005, the new Domestic Violence Courthouse on West Harrison Street in Chicago became a model for the nation. Its design was a collaborative effort that combined careful planning by court and county officials with input from advocacy groups. The result was a state of the art facility that segregates victims and their alleged abusers with separate entrances, elevators and waiting rooms. These much acclaimed aspects addressed inadequacies that had compromised public safety at the former facility at 13th and Michigan.

“The first charge I have set for the Committee and its Chair, Judge Dickler, is to re-examine operations at 555 West Harrison Street to ensure that the Circuit Court of Cook County remains on the cutting edge in providing a safe and secure environment for the hearing of domestic violence matters,” Evans said. “The Committee will then make recommendations to the Chief Judge on whether additional improvements are needed to help protect the safety of victims and the rights of the accused.”

Evans noted that the Committee will also review the procedures and practices for domestic violence matters currently in place in the court’s suburban district locations in Skokie, Rolling Meadows, Maywood, Bridegview, and Markham.

The members of the Circuit Court of Cook County Committee on Domestic Violence Court are as follows:

Judge Grace G. Dickler
Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County

Arthur J. Lurigio, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Faculty
College of Arts and Sciences
Loyola University Chicago
Professor of Criminal Justice and Psychology

Mary S. Trew
Executive Director
Domestic Violence Legal Clinic

Dawn Dalton
Executive Director
Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network

Jim Thomas, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus
Northern Illinois University
Sociology/Criminal Justice

Vickii Coffey
Executive Director
Goodwill Industries of Metropolitan Chicago

Loretta Line
Advocacy and Education Director
YWCA Evanston/North Shore

Mary A. Melchor
Black Women Lawyers’ Association

Terrence M. Murphy, Executive Director
The Chicago Bar Association

Judge Benjamin S. Mackoff (Ret.)
Former Presiding Judge
Domestic Relations Division, Circuit Court of Cook County

Bridget Healy Ryan
Director of Public Affairs
Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney

Jesús Reyes, AM, LCSW
Acting Chief Probation Officer
Adult Probation Department, Circuit Court of Cook County
Social Service Department, Circuit Court of Cook County

Zeophous (Z) Williams
Cook County Bar Association

Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans
Ex officio member

Chief Judge Evans said he will ask other persons to serve on the Committee as he deems necessary.

Judge Dickler, the Committee Chair, has entered approximately 3,000 orders of protection throughout her judicial career which began in 1988 when she was appointed an associate judge. She was elected a circuit judge 2006. She initially served in the First Municipal District hearing traffic, bail and civil matters until her assignment to the Domestic Relations Division in 1991 where she remains to this day. She has been assigned to the Second Municipal District in Skokie since August 1999. Prior to becoming an associate judge, Dickler served as a U.S. Immigration Judge in U.S. Immigration Court from 1986 to 1988 and as an Administrative Law Judge for the Illinois Human Rights Commission from 1982 to 1985. Her legal experience prior to 1981 includes work for Travelers and Immigrants Aid, private practice and the Cook County Legal Assistance Foundation. She received her J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1978 and her B.A. from DePaul University in 1975.

Matters heard at the Domestic Violence Courthouse include all criminal misdemeanor domestic violence cases originating in the City of Chicago, some proceedings for felony domestic violence cases, all civil and criminal calls for orders of protection and preliminary hearings in felony domestic violence cases. Misdemeanor jury cases are also heard there.

State of the art components of the facility on the first floor include separate security checkpoints at the entrance for victims and alleged offenders; a dedicated elevator for victims; a Victim Support Area that houses women’s advocacy groups, the Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney, and a pro bono legal services office for victims seeking orders of protection; a private, secured waiting room; and the Children’s Advocacy Room and Child Advocacy Clinic where free childcare is available for parents while they attend to court business.

In addition, the courtrooms, which are located on the upper floors, have secured waiting rooms for victims. Alleged offenders who are in custody are brought in through the basement lock-up and up to courtrooms via a dedicated elevator that opens directly into the holding area.

The courthouse also has high tech courtrooms equipped with retractable ceiling projectors and screens, computer screen monitors, and Internet connections at counsels’ tables and on the bench. Security cameras are in place throughout the building and in the lock-up.




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