WOODSTOCK – Starting Jan. 1, 2015, court cases now heard at the McHenry Branch Court will be moved to the McHenry County Courthouse, the 22nd Judicial Circuit officials announced this week.
Court Administrator Dan Wallis, said the decision to close the branch was part security, part dwindling case filings.
Court filings and the number of cases heard at the branch court have been falling off the past three years, so it doesn't make much sense to staff it, Wallis said.
According to the most recent data provided by Wallis, Branch Court filings were down 2,396 between 2011 and 2012. Cases heard before a judge decreased 1,516 year over year. Case filings are citations that are paid without appearing before a judge.
There were 13,342 cases filed in the branch court in 2012, and 8,804 that were heard.
The circuit court on Wednesdays sends a judge, an IT administrator, four clerks and two courthouse security officers to McHenry's Municipal Center for these cases – mostly traffic and ordinance violations. It's a building not equipped with the same security measures as the courthouse, Wallis said, adding that that factored into the decision to close the branch.
Understanding that parking spaces at the courthouse is already at a premium, Wallis said cases once heard in McHenry – those from Lakemoor, McHenry, Prairie Grove, Barrington Hills and Holiday Hills – will continue to be heard on Wednesday and shouldn't interfere with cases from other communities heard on different days.
The McHenry Branch heard cases for more than 20 years and will remain doing so through January, Wallis said.