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Backlog In Cook County Circuit Courts May Be Relieved Soon

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A big development in a story CBS 2 first reported on about earlier this week.

Delays lasting months for hundreds of civil court cases in Cook County. Some attorneys blame outdated technology for bringing many cases to a virtual halt.

CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov has an update from the Dale Center.

Cook County courts resume many operations next week. And a new court order regarding the law division was also just issued.

That was the primary focus of my story which also resulted in CBS 2 getting several calls from some of the biggest law firms in the city, quick to defend those on the bench.

Attorney Mark Horwitz raised concerns that a technological lag inside the Daley Center resulted in massive case delays in the court's law division in particular.  The CBS 2 story prompted this response from supervising law division Judge Kathy Flanagan, stating she's "never seen a group of judges work harder" during the pandemic shutdown.

Several large Chicago law firms also reached out.

According to a spokesperson for Chief Judge Tim Evans, 400 Cook County judges now have Zoom licenses. And Judges Flanagan and Thomas Demetrio said judge accessibility is at an all time high.

"The court system has been working quite well. Judges have been working remotely, for the most part," Demetrio said. "Judges are available at any time to hear any matter, involving any case, filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County."

"I'm not throwing any one of the circuit judges under the bus by saying they're not working," Horowitz said. He stressed his concerns are about a growing case backlog.

"We don't have the push of the courts to keep the cases moving," Horowitz said.

A new July 2 order may help push them along. It states "all law division operations will resume." Except for jury trials.

"Just because you have a spring date doesn't mean you have to wait to the spring to do something," Demetrio said.

Horwitz said larger law firms have an advantage.

"They have greater access. They can deny it all they want," Horowitz said.

CBS 2 emailed Judge Flanagan to get her comments on that claim, but she has yet to respond.

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