From the McHenry County Circuit Court:
22nd Judicial Circuit Offers Zoom Option for Traffic Court
(Woodstock, IL) On May 20, 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered that Circuit Courts may resume hearing court matters, whether in person or remotely.
In anticipation of this order, the 22nd Judicial Circuit in coordination with various justice stakeholders, including McHenry County Emergency Management, developed a Reestablishment Plan to allow for the safe resumption of effective and meaningful courthouse operations.
One goal of the Reestablishment Plan is to reduce the number of people coming to the Michael J. Sullivan Judicial Center, thus mitigating virus transmission.
To help accomplish this goal, the Circuit’s Reestablishment Plan included increased opportunities for remote appearances in many kinds of cases, including in traffic court.
Traffic court is a high-volume docket with hundreds of people typically coming to court each week.
If an individual receives a citation for a petty traffic offense, they may appear remotely in McHenry Courtroom 102 using Zoom.
The remote appearance will be on the same date
designated on the citation, however it will begin 30 minutes after the time listed on the citation.
For example, the remote appearance for a citation with a return court date of August 1, 2020 at 1:30 pm will be on August 1, 2020 at 2:00 pm.
By opening the remote courtroom 30 minutes after in-person matters, the traffic court judge can maintain a reasonable flow of cases and limit delays.
Individuals wishing to appear in traffic court remotely need not contact the Circuit Clerk’s Office or the Court to request a remote appearance.
Rather, the individual simply enters into any web browser on a smartphone, laptop, desktop personal computer or other handheld device to appear in the virtual traffic courtroom on the appropriate date and time. Once the presiding Judge opens the remote courtroom at the designated time, participants are moved from the waiting room into the courtroom where they can see the courtroom, judge, prosecutor and other participants.
Links to information about virtual appearances can be found on the McHenry County Circuit Clerk’s website here.
Associate Judge Jennifer L. Johnson, who presides over traffic court stated, “I welcome the remote appearance choice for individuals faced with a petty traffic ticket.
“Many have found remote appearances are more convenient than coming to court in-person.
“Looking long-term, I am hopeful the option to appear remotely is an improvement that increases access to and participation in the justice system.
“I am pleased we have been able to implement this change with the help and cooperation of our justice partners, the Circuit Clerk’s office, and with the support of Court Administration,” Johnson continued.
Circuit Clerk Kathy Keefe stated, “The 22nd Circuit has been a leader with virtual courtrooms during the pandemic, particularly in the area of virtual traffic court.
“I have been contacted by Circuit Clerks from all over the state asking about our virtual traffic court, because we were one of the first counties in Illinois to give it a try.”
“The technology is free and user friendly,” stated Judge Johnson.
Circuit Clerk Kathy Keefe indicated that “Traffic court brings the most people to the courthouse, and our virtual traffic court program has been very successful not only reducing the number of people in the building every day, but also offering the public an option to take care of their traffic ticket without taking a day off from work or school.
“It is a low-cost solution which greatly improves the public’s access to justice in McHenry County.”
Chief Judge James S. Cowlin stated, “This pandemic has caused the courts to become innovative and more responsive to the public when handling the business of the courts.
“Remote appearances are a safe and efficient tool for court patrons.”
The 22nd Judicial Circuit of McHenry County and the Circuit Clerk’s Office encourages court users to take advantage of virtual appearances.
Presently, the 22 \nd Judicial Circuit allows for virtual appearances for certain traffic cases, civil cases and family law cases.