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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Sea Change At The Cook County Circuit Courts, Chicago, Illinois

Today when I was in Chicago for another court hearing on my late father's loss of leg due to nursing home neglect, I noticed a sea change among many of the staff at the Cook County Circuit Courts in The Richard J. Daley Center. Before certain groups of them seemed to go out of their way to hinder and humiliate me, perhaps because of my pro se status, perhaps due to racial factors. Today some things had changed. For example, the BLOCK THIRTY SEVEN underground parking attendants are all black and in the past they have tended toward surly. Today one of them lifted my walker into my car for me of his own accord. This appears to be relatively easy for men to do as they have significantly greater shoulder strength than women, than old women. Before today the parking attendants would all turn their backs and pretend not to see me struggle with getting my extra-wide walker into and out of the backseat of my car, which is the only place it will fit. I do not think of myself as extra-wide, but I transport all of my legal documents for my court hearings stacked on the seat of my walker, and my case file is quite a pile. I used to push the entire forty pounds of my legal case file to and from court because the motion judge would ask to see random paper copies of filings that I e-filed several years ago (and that he should have on his computer screen). Finally, I could no longer carry my case file. The motion judge noticed and asked where my case file was, so I simply told him that it was too heavy to carry, and he stopped asking me for those very old filings.

Another example of difficulties in the past at the Cook County Circuit Courts was when a middle-aged, black police officer was standing by the ground floor elevators and I, sweating and panting with the exertion of having pushed my walker piled with case files for about a mile to and around the Daley Center, approached him for directions. The police officer saw me coming but briskly stepped aside to provide directions to a middle-aged black man, then the police officer took ten steps back (and away from me) to stand at his original position. He stood there sourly as he watched me approach, he refused to walk toward me to save an old white woman a few steps. And the police officer was scarcely civil when he provided the directions I requested. He eyed me with suspicion. I took no notice of his lack of civility, as that is my policy with systemic problems of that sort, but the interaction was embarrassing and draining.

Today everywhere I went to further my filings I was greeted by smiles and genuine assistance. I do not know what the change in the perspective has been or what the issues are but if this is the new normal I am vastly relieved. Thank you God. I made a point today to thank that black police officer for his service, and I reminded him that he has the support of many, many citizens, the support of tens of thousands just in the Chicago skyscrapers nearby. I build bridges whenever, wherever possible.

A possible explanation for the sea change in attitude in the Cook County Circuit Courts is that several high profile criminal cases are currently being prosecuted in Chicago, one of which accuses a Cook County State's Attorney of wrongdoing. Perhaps now everyone who has done something wrong in the Cook County Circuit Courts fears exposure, and hopes good behavior is a good cover.

I have fallen several more times recently and it feels as if I have cracked my hip, with particular pain down my right leg. It is increasingly difficult for me to drive to the Daly Center in Chicago for these hearings; and then it is even harder for me to push my loaded walker around that 30-story, 648 foot tall legal complex with the footprint of a very large city block. I have another two hearings in two weeks, and I dread the expenditure of energy that they require, energy that I do not have. My late father's case is going as well as can be expected, and for me to be able to hope that the staff of the Cook County Circuit Courts will be pleasant and helpful to me in the future is a small blessing.

Caption: Scary Parking Entrance At BLOCK THIRTY SEVEN, Chicago, Illinois

by Annmarie Throckmorton 06-19-19

Caption: Scary Parking Exit At BLOCK THIRTY SEVEN, Chicago, Illinois

by Annmarie Throckmorton 06-19-19

Caption: BLOCK THIRTY SEVEN is a little rundown.

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2019

This parking garage extends several stories underground and connects to the dark, congested concourse leading to the trains of the Chicago "L" and The Richard J. Daley Center.

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