Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has requested cuts to courtoom deputies that mean that weekend bond hearings would only be held in the Markham Courthouse and at 26th and California. Normally, bond hearings are held every day at each of the suburban courthouses for those charged with felonies. Dart believes that so few weekend bond hearings are held in all of the suburban courthouses, with the exception of Markham, that he wants to shut down the remaining courthouses on the weekends and only have weekend bond hearings at 26th and California and Markham. Dart says that as few as seven or eight defendants may appear in Skokie or Rolling Meadows on a given weekend. In the meantime, there are entire floors at the Daley Center that only have on courtroom deputy assigned. In addition, budget constraints make it impossible for Dart to hire more employees. If Dart's plan is adopted, then local police agencies will be forced to absorb the addtional cost of transporting prisoners to Markham or 26th Street, or holding them in their local jails until Monday mornining. The second part of Dart's proposal would close all the courthouses by 6 p.m. during the weekday.
The final decision will be made by Chief Judge Timothy Evans. Dart has more than 1,100 courtroom deputies to cover 357 courtrooms throughout the county. Evans said that he will consider Dart's proposal once Dart is able to show why his current staff is unable to cover all of the courthouses.
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