More pay for jurors, plus expanded service for survivors of domestic violence to be funded by the Circuit Court of Cook County

Released On 11/18/2021

The Circuit Court of County will fund a plan that will more than double pay for jurors, improve and expand services for survivors of domestic violence, and increase pay to private attorneys representing indigent persons, according to Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. 

The new programs will cost the court $2.82 million for 2022, under amendments to the court’s budget passed unanimously by the Cook County Board of Commissioners today. The court will pay for the improvements through delays in filling vacancies of court personnel, reducing the contract budget for the Juvenile Division, and increasing the contribution of fee collections from special-purpose funds.  

The amendments provide funding both to address the immediate needs of Domestic Violence Court operations and to establish 24 hour/7 days a week operations for Domestic Violence. Fees for jury service to both petit and grand jurors increase from $14.50 per day to $30 per day, and the related transportation stipend increases from $2.70 per day to $5 per day, effective June 1, 2022. Finally, the rates of compensation for the legal representation of indigent litigants will also increase, effective June 1, 2022. 

“These changes are of crucial importance to the administration of justice in Cook County,” said Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. “While it has required sacrifices from our office, we believe these sacrifices are needed to improve services for those who come before the court, either as jurors, complaining witnesses, or as defendants.” 

Judge Evans noted that juror pay has not changed for decades, despite increased costs of transportation, parking, and other goods and services. “We need to respect the time and effort it takes to serve on a jury, which is such a critical part of our justice system under the U.S. Constitution,” Judge Evans said. 

In October, Judge Evans formed a committee to review the practices and procedures governing the hearing of domestic violence matters throughout the court, and to review the organization and efficiency of Domestic Violence Division operations at all courthouses where domestic violence matters are heard. The committee, chaired by Domestic Relations Division Presiding Judge Grace G. Dickler, includes judges in the Domestic Relations, Domestic Violence and Child Protection Divisions, advocates for domestic violence victims, and representatives of the private bar, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, and the Cook County Board. 

The funding will pay for additional personnel and equipment, including 40 laptop computers, to boost current operations and allow for 24/7 access to emergency orders of protection for domestic violence survivors. 

“The court recognizes that petitioners in Domestic Violence cases are often undergoing tremendous stress and may face physical danger, and that they cannot wait for regular business hours to obtain emergency protective orders,” Judge Evans said. “The establishment of these new procedures, funded in our 2022 budget, is intended to make judges available 24/7 to rule on these critical matters. I would like to thank the board commissioners, advocates and other county officials for working with the court to develop these improvements.” 

The additional funding for private attorneys representing indigent clients recognizes the important work done by these attorneys, and brings their pay more in line with pay for similar work in other jurisdictions. Pay is going up from $75 per hour to $112.50 per hour for in-court proceedings and from $50 to $75 for out-of-court preparation, effective for services provided on or after June 1, 2022. 

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