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Tower, cameras in court on chief judge’s ‘13 agenda

Fred Foreman

Fred Foreman

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Updated: February 26, 2013 2:39AM

Moving forward with the proposed criminal courts tower and implementing electronic filing and remote access to court records are among the projects Chief Judge Fred Foreman will handle as he serves his second term as the 19th Judicial Circuit’s chief jurist.

The circuit’s 14 full judges recently unanimously voted Foreman to serve a second term as chief judge.

“I am elated and honored to have been given the vote of confidence by my fellow jurists to continue as chief judge of the judicial branch serving the Lake County community,” said Foreman.

Lake County Board unanimously has approved the estimated $81.5 million project to build a nine-story criminal courts tower in downtown Waukegan that will have 17 courtrooms with space for three more.

Meetings are set for after the first of the year to begin planning the tunnel under Washington Street to connect the new tower with the Lake County Building. There will also be some preliminary site work that will create additional space for the Circuit Clerk’s Office in the garage area, Foreman said.

After that, there will be bids to hire construction management and a general contractor to build the new tower, Foreman said. The current courthouse is also undergoing some changes.

“Over the next few months, we are remodeling our house,” said Foreman.

The new family courtroom is almost finished. Court administrative staff was moved from the first floor into other parts of the courthouse to make room for the new family courtroom. Fire protection systems in the courtrooms will be upgraded.

The family court system was reorganized. Several judges will be reassigned and start their new assignments in February. Foreman said he would make those announcements by next week.

Two more judges will be added to the civil trial division to handle chancery cases to keep up with foreclosures, Foreman said. He also said misdemeanor and felony arraignments will be held in Courtroom 150 (in the Babcox Center) starting in March.

Foreman also said there was “no definite date,” but that the 19th Judicial Circuit will apply to allow cameras in the courtroom in January.

Foreman is chairman of the Executive Justice Council Committee, set up by the County Board to work on remote access to court records and electronic filing.

“We had a good meeting Friday (Dec. 21). We heard from all the technology officers in the court, clerk’s office, county office and sheriff’s office. We’re hoping in January to reopen our (remote) public access to court records,” said Foreman.

The committee is working with new rules from the Supreme Court to allow for electronic filing in civil cases, he said.

“We will achieve these goals, among others, and will continue to present the 19th Circuit as one of the most progressive court systems throughout the country,” said Foreman.

He was first elected as chief judge in May. He has been a circuit judge since 2004. He has worked as an assistant public defender, assistant state’s attorney, served as Lake County state’s attorney, was U.S. attorney for Northern District of Illinois and went into private practice. He graduated from John Marshall Law School in 1974.

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