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    Monday, July 18, 2011

    Cook County Court Clerk grossly negligent; rap sheets useless & inaccurate; failure to transmit notices of appeal; failure to file lawsuits from indigent plaintiffs; call for her resignation

                                                                                      Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown-official portrait

    The principle job of the Cook County Court Clerk is to keep accurate records and in the case of the criminal courts transmit these records to the Illinois State Police. She is also by statute required to transmit Notices of Appeal filed with her office to the Illinois Appellate Court within five days, as well as orders granting or denying indigency petitions to the litigant (plaintiff or defendant) "promptly" or by mail if the llitigant isn't present.
    The ISP is required by law to maintain records of criminal histories on Illinois residents. These records help to generate a rap sheet for persons arrested including a record of convictions, acquittals, and bond forfeitures. These records are also sent to the FBI for their criminal database.

    Rap sheets are used by law enforcement officers and judges to determine bail amounts when someone is arrested. If the person has lots of bond forfeitures for failing to appear in court or has a heavy record of convictions for serious crimes, then the judge will set a high bail amount.

    Rap sheets are also used by companies, schools and government in employment decisions and can seriously affect a person's ability to obtain a job if they reveal information of careless behavior like refusing to come to court or convictions.

    Failure to keep accurate court records and to transmit them to the ISP violates civil rights as it subjects arrestees to excessive bail without due process, a violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments to the constitution which mandate due process in criminal procedures, as well as discrimination regarding obtaining a job. False statements on rap sheets amount to defamation of character.

    This writer reviewed over 30 cases in the criminal courts in Cook County where Clerk Brown oversees maintenance of records. She compared them to the judge’s notes and orders hand written in the files and to the ISP criminal history or rap sheet. The following were some of the numerous errors noted:

    There was NO record in the docket transmitted to the ISP and FBI of any preliminary bond forfeiture orders which were quashed, where the defendant did not show up in court, a warrant was issued, and a preliminary bond forfeiture order was entered, and then the defendant later showed up with a good excuse such as they were in the hospital or in jail and were not brought to court due to no fault of their own.

    One defendant who was arrested on misdemeanor battery, was disabled, and had four preliminary bond forfeitures which were quashed because she was in hospital or had other good excuses. She has a history of coming to court. The Court Clerks failed to transmit to the ISP court dispositions quashing the bond forfeitures. The writer checked with the court assistant clerks and found out that they NEVER transmit notic to the ISP that bond forfeitures are quashed, which happens at least 1/2 the time.
    The ISP records do not have any records that the bond forfeitures were quashed so the prosecutor told the judge that the defendant was a "flight risk" with a history of ignoring court orders, which is totally false. The rap sheet appeared to have four bond forfeitures as they only listed the preliminary bond forfeiture orders. Despite the defendant's attorney, acting as an "officer of the court," stating that the ISP rap sheet was incorrect, Judge Feerick refused to believe him and set bail at $50,000 instead of the usual $1,000 for a misdemeanor case. This caused the defendant to be needlessly and wrongfully incarcerated. This defames the defendant and affects her ability to obtain a job. This was clear bias by Judge Feerick to believe the states attorney and not the defendant's attorney.

    There were numerous instances where the court records reveal that the defendant was out on bond, but the ISP were told the defendant was in custody and vice versa. There were numerous entries in the docket that clearly were incorrectly placed in one case's docket but belonged in another case.

    The errors are endless. Total error rate, regarding significant entries in the court's docket (computerized record) revealed a 37% error rate (number of cases with significant errors divided by total number of cases). Significant errors included failure to record dispositions correctly, failure to record orders correctly, entries in the wrong docket, and failure to record an order.

    This writer discussed the above with a number of low ranking court clerks.

    They all wished to remain anonymous, but said that Clerk Brown almost never visits their offices; there appears to be no mechanism to catch errors; over the past few years the clerk's have become demoralized, feel abused and neglected and therefore have a careless attitude about their jobs. One admitted that many of them just don't care anymore and that is why the error rate is so high. They admitted that the jobs of the supervisors have more to do with patronage than with talent. They do not believe their supervisors know what they are doing. They think Clerk Brown is unqualified to do her job and is only concerned about things like computerizing the filing of complaints. They wish that a concerned, energetic, and qualified person would be appointed as Clerk, who would provide true oversight.

    This error rate is so large that the rap sheets in the ISP hands should be considered totally unreliable and the judges and police should not use them to set bail or for any other reason. This is a very serious dereliction of duty of the Cook County Court Clerk.

    The ISP should investigate this and confirm what I have written here. This is a major catastrophe for law enforcement and the courts. It must be corrected quickly.

    This failure of the Court Clerk to perform her statutory duties to keep accurate records is outrageous and serious. In conjunction with Clerk Brown's corruption of the appeal process, the only thing for her to do at this point is resign immediately. The FBI and U.S. Attorney should investigate this also to see if pay-to-play or "theft of honest services" is the reason for this gross negligence of the Cook County Court Clerk.

    This writer met with Clerk Brown in December 2009. She said she would look into the issue of corruption of the appellate process, failure to transmit dispositions to the ISP and other issues. One of the other issues was that she violates her statutory duty to transmit Notices of Appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court within five days as required by the Illinois Supreme Court Rule She systematically fails to do so, instead, as she admitted transmitting a "notice of notice of appeal." Even though the County Circuit Court loses jurisdiction the moment a notice of appeal is file, Clerk Brown transmits the notices of appeal to Presiding Criminal Court Judge Biebel - this is illegal. He then decides whether or not to transmit them to the Illinois Appellate Court. He has no jurisdiction to withhold them, decide anything about them, or to order them transmitted. This has been going on for more than a decade and is a flat out violation of Illinois law. Both Clerk Brown and Judge Biebel are aware of this!  Brown has made NO contact with this writer since December 2009 about this issue, after our meeting witnessed by her attorney, her chief clerk, and a private attorney.

    Brown also allows her clerks to follow Judge Maddux's illegal order to NOT promptly give orders (decisions) on indigeny petitions presented to his office to the litigant (plaintiff) waiting in the courtroom. They instead take them down to the Clerk's law division office, along with any other papers that the litigant had attached for the judge to view. The litigant is then forced to go down several floors and wait in line for their orders that should have been handed to them in the courtroom. All attorneys (and pro se counsel) are routinely given copies of orders issued by judges in the courtrooms of the Daley Center without charge. The statutes and Illinois Supreme Court Rules also state that the Clerk must file any lawsuits filed by indigent defendants who have filed an indigency petition at the same time WITHOUT CHARGE, regardless of the judge's order. If the judge denies the indigency petition then the litigant will be allowed to make a payment schedule if that is what the judge writes. Judge Maddux purposely refuses to tell the litigant his decision in the courtroom so if he denies the petition, the petitioner will have to re-motion it up to ask for a payment schedule and delay filing his/her suit. There would be no delay if Brown filed the lawsuit, but if the petition is denied, her clerks are instructed not to file the suits until they receive payment. This is illegal and a violation of statute. The act of Judge Maddux's clerk taking the lawsuit and order to the clerk's office and placing it on the desk is also illegal, as clerks are not allowed to perform the act of filing a lawsuit for a litigant. Only the litigant may present the lawsuit and judge's order to the filing clerks.

    Judge Maddux has this illegal scheme to inhibit the filing of indigent pro se lawsuits that includes limiting presenttio of such indigency petitions in his courtroom to only between 11:30 and 12 noon each day. He leaves the bench and during this time his clerks gather the petitions and take them to his chambers. It is rumored that his clerks make the indigency decision, which would be an illegal act. Judge Maddux refuses to sit on the bench and consider the petitions in front of the litigants or ask them questions, or allow them to explain their situations and ask for reconsideration if he rejects their petitions.. Judge Maddux makes sure to inconvenience (harass) the pro se litigants by making them wait through lunch until at least 1:00  pm or 1:30 pm before he has the clerk go out to the courtroom and tell the litigants to follow him to the court clerk's 8th floor law division office and wait in line by the filing clerks. The filing clerks then will take the pile of papers handed to them by Judge Maddux's clerk including the petitions for indigeny and attached lawsuits and if they had not already been filed, they will file them if the order approved the indigency petition and refuse to file them without payment of the filing fee if the order denied the indigency petition.


    In the interest of full disclosure, the disabled defendant is this writer. During a  court hearing on a fraudulent trespass charge against me (see below for details)  Sheriff Deputy Stanislavski stepped in front of my walker (I am disabled) and pushed his body against it after I complained that Deputy Sheriff Norris inappropriately grabbed my arm and told me to shut up in a courtroom where I was representing myself on a wrongful arrest and fraudulent misdemeanor trespass charge. Judge Hyland failed to speak up and admonish the deputy.
    The Sheriff courtroom deputies are inadequately trained in that they are trained to tell defendants to shut up in the courtroom. However, when a defendant is representing themselves as pro se counsel, they have the same rights as an attorney to speak up, object, etc. I was successfully representing myself as the charge was later dismissed by the state (nolle prosequi) without explanation.
    I told Deputy Sheriff Norris to stop "assaulting me" and that I had a right to speak up like an attorney when I was representing myself. Stanislavski said quietly under his breath so the court reporter wouldn't hear him: "if you're going to charge her with assault, I'm going to charge you with battery." He claimed no injury. The judge said nothing as their was no assault to see.
    The transcript of the hearing I was in reveals there was no battery. Judge Hyland was inappropriately yelling at me when I politely interrupted her and said she had made an error of law in stating that trespass to real property was a class A misdemeanor. I told the judge it was actually a class B misdemeanor and the judge got annoyed. I later copied the law and showed the judge she was in error. Judge Hyland then transferred the case to another judge.

    That trespass case is also fraudulent against this writer because I was arrested for ringing the doorbell of a house, no one answered, and there was NEVER any notice not to come on the property. There is no probable cause on a trespass charge if there was no notice by the owner or occupant or no posted sign against trespassing. Without notice, a charge of trespass is unconstitutional as it violates the Fourth Amendment which prohibits arrest without probable cause. The Evergreen Park Police corruptly claim that they notified writer by phone not to come on the property. There are six Linda Sheltons in the Chicago area. Their records reveal they called the wrong Linda Shelton and therefore there was no notice and therefore no crime committed and no probable cause - the phone number on their records is NOT mine. The charge was later dropped by the States Attorney (nolle prosequi) without explanation. For more info see:


    Illinois Trespass to Real Property law:

    720 ILCS 5/21-3
    Sec. 21-3. Criminal trespass to real property.
    (a) Except as provided in subsection (a)(5), whoever:
    (1) knowingly and without lawful authority enters or remains within or on a building; or

    (2) enters upon the land of another, after receiving, prior to such entry, notice from the owner or occupant that such entry is forbidden; or

    (3) remains upon the land of another, after receiving notice from the owner or occupant to depart; or

    (3.5) presents false documents or falsely represents his or her identity orally to the owner or occupant of a building or land in order to obtain permission from the owner or occupant to enter or remain in the building or on the land; commits a Class B misdemeanor.

    For purposes of item (1) of this subsection, this Section shall not apply to being in a building which is open to the public while the building is open to the public during its normal hours of operation; nor shall this Section apply to a person who enters a public building under the reasonable belief that the building is still open to the public.


    George E. Bourguignon, Jr. Attorney at Law said...

    These are very serious charges made against the clerk of court.

    George E. Bourguignon, Jr. Attorney at Law said...

    It is great to have someone monitor the courts, but take great pains to ensure you present the facts accurately and give the benefit of the doubt graciously.

    Dr Linda Shelton said...

    All of these charges against Clerk Brown are true and we have proof. This is grounds for impeachment. It is shocking that the lawyers have been ignoring this and reveal that the legal community is rubber stamping and participating in corruption in Crook County. Well boys! We aren't going to take it anymore. If the lawyers don't clean up the system they work in, the pro se community will!

    Anonymous said...

    What a shame .. this corrupt conduct is unfair and hurts people who are only trying to stand up for the right to due process that is quaranteed by the U.S. Constitution .. if these officials continue to abuse citizens, they will soon find their courts "occupied" !!! We the people are watching .. we will not stand for this in our courts .. Shameful !!