If you’ve been following our blog, we recently wrote a post regarding the removal of the lockers used for cell phones at the Leighton Criminal Courts building. On April 1st, all the cell phone lockers were removed from Leighton due to the safety concerns they were causing. The ban on the lockers didn’t last long at all. In fact, this might be the fastest rule reversal we’ve ever seen. One minute the lockers are gone, and the next they’re back. Just one week after the lockers were removed, Judge Tim Evans announced that they would be putting the lockers back into the courthouse effective immediately. Clearly, the locker removal did not work at all and forced those in charge at the courthouse to come up with another plan, and quickly.
One of the main reasons for the removal was that they were causing safety issues at the courthouse. Many people were seen using the lockers to store contraband including illegal weapons and drugs according to Toni Preckwinkle’s spokesperson. This meant that anything could be put into the lockers because no one had gone through security before they locked the items away. This caused major issues with many groups including the Department of Homeland Security which warned that a explosive device could easily be stored in the lockers because there was no way to keep track of the contents. As part of the agreement that was reached, the lockers will now be located after the security checkpoint. This helps keep track of the contents of the lockers and prevent any contraband from entering the courthouse.
Another issue that caused the removal was the lack of staff designated to maintain the upkeep and oversight of the lockers. The Department of Facilities management was originally assigned to oversee the lockers, but there was no designated staff that managed them daily. Now the Sheriffs Department, the Department of Facilities Management, and Judge Evans’ staff will all have designated times and days that they are responsible for the maintaining and overseeing of the lockers and their contents. The oversight of the lockers aims to protect and ensure the safety of everyone at the courthouse.
The lockers are necessary after the ban on cell phones was administered more than three years ago. This week was extremely hectic at Leighton, while most people still brought cell phones and couldn’t get through security to get to court on time. Many people rely on their cell phones to get around or for their own safety, especially those who take public transportation to get around. Eventually the goal is to have a private company take over the management of the lockers. For now, all three of the departments must work together to ensure that everything runs smoothly and to ensure the safety of everyone involved with the courthouse.
As always, we will keep you updated on any new changes to this rule and others. If you have any questions or are in need of legal assistance feel free to contact us and one of our skilled attorneys will be happy to assist you.