One would hope that a contested election for Chief Judge (right around the corner on September 15) would have inspired more progress on transparency and communication than simply distributing contact information for Chief Judge Evans’s assistant. Sadly, the standard of communication has been so low for so long, that this memo actually marks the most progress we’ve seen in Evans’s 15 years in office.
On August 12th, Timothy Evans, Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, sent this letter [PDF] to all judges operating in the Circuit Court of Cook County. In it, he acknowledges that judges have found it difficult to meet with him, sets aside a “block of time” on Thursdays, and asks that any judges looking to get in touch with him schedule appointments with his assistant, kindly providing contact information.
What is troubling about this seemingly innocuous memo is that it further betrays that judges did not previously have a means of scheduling such appointments. The letter also does little to restore confidence regarding one of the most troubling issues about this administration: the inability of judges and representatives of other public safety agencies–not to mention outside groups–to get an audience with the Chief Judge or communicate effectively with his office. This in itself is not news; appointments with the Office of the Chief Judge (OCJ) are regularly canceled or delayed at the last minute. Those lucky enough to obtain a scheduled meeting with the Chief Judge are often subjected to waits well over an hour (or two) after the scheduled start time.
Furthermore, there have been indications–as in the emails sent out by Judge Patrick Murphy–that this stifling of communications both with the OCJ and laterally between judges is a matter of policy rather than an accident.