ST. CHARLES – Kane County’s judiciary is backing off its plans to close its St. Charles branch courtroom one day each week because the county’s new chief judge no longer believes the saved costs will outweigh lost production.
Earlier this year, Kane County’s then-Chief Judge Robert Spence had announced plans to curtail operations at the county’s three branch courtrooms in St. Charles, Elgin and Aurora.
Judges in those branch courts typically would handle lesser legal matters, including traffic tickets, ordinance violations and other misdemeanors.
However, in the past four years, the number of such misdemeanor and ordinance violations had dropped by 36 percent, said Court Administrator Doug Naughton.
As the workload at the branch courts decreased, Spence believed the county could save money by ceasing operations at each court one day each week.
In St. Charles, courtrooms would have been closed on Monday, while in Elgin and Aurora, the courts would have been closed on alternating Fridays.
However, in the past few weeks, the county’s judiciary has lost two judges, as the Illinois Supreme Court reassigned Spence to the Illinois Appellate Court and did not replace him, and also opted to end the recall of Judge Alan Cargerman, who had served in the county for seven years.
With the sudden change in staffing, new Kane County Chief Judge Judy Brawka, who took over earlier this month as the head of the county’s judiciary, chose to keep the St. Charles branch court in operation five days a week, Naughton said.
He said the additional four days of courtroom time each month would be needed to help the county’s remaining judges juggle the additional workload left by the two unfilled judicial vacancies.
He said the courtroom in which Judge Katherine Moran now presides would be used to hear cases related to summary DUI suspensions.
Naughton noted that the county’s judiciary is also awaiting the appointment of four new associate judges, who he said have not yet been named but should be seated to begin hearing cases in February.
However, the appointment of those judges will not change the need for the St. Charles branch court to remain open on Mondays.