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New Chief Judge Brawka begins reshaping Kane County courts

16th Circuit Chief Judge Judith Brawka

16th Circuit Chief Judge Judith Brawka

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Updated: November 17, 2012 9:27PM

New Chief Judge Judith Brawka is in the process of determining how to balance judiciary positions with courtroom space in the 16th Judicial Circuit.

At a meeting with the Kane County Board Judiciary and Public Safety Committee Friday, Brawka said the every-other Friday closings of the Elgin and Aurora branch courts will remain in place, while the Kane County Branch Court in St. Charles will no longer close on Mondays.

Brawka, elected as new chief judge earlier this month, is dealing with several changes to the judiciary as she begins her tenure as the first female chief judge of the circuit. In her new role, she is tasked with allocating judiciary resources.

Starting in December, Kane County will be alone in the 16th Circuit, with DeKalb and Kendall counties splitting off into the new 23rd Circuit.

Kane will also face the departure of long time Judges Timothy Sheldon, Allan Anderson, and Robert Janes. There will be five new judges appointed in the county in the next 90 days.

“My objective is to make good use of our judge time,” she said.

Aurora attorney Rene Cruz and former Kane County Assistant State’s Attorney Christine Downs are finalists to become judges within the county.

Judiciary and Public Safety Committee member Christina Castro, D-Elgin, has made the push for a minority judge, as other County Board members have in the past.

“It’s sad to see our good judges retire, but it also opens up some opportunities to have minorities,” she said.

Committee member, Jim Mitchell R-North Aurora, also suggested examining ways to reduce the number of required court appearances for members of the public, as a way to reduce stress on the court system. The county may not have a large say in this however, because the state sets what infractions require a mandatory court appearance.

Mitchell said that the county could help to lobby the state in situations where mandatory appearances may place unneeded strain on the system.

Brawka also said that even that might not completely reduce the amount of court traffic.

“Just because you don’t have to go to court doesn’t mean that someone won’t want to come to court,” she said.

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