Chicago youth in a detention center

Updated 10/27/16, 9:27 a.m.

A federal class action lawsuit has been filed against Leonard Dixon, Superintendent of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC), and Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans and Cook County itself.

The suit alleges that four unrelated and unnamed teenagers (Plaintiffs) – representing others similarly situated – were individually arrested without warrants and detained for more than 48 hours before a “probable cause” hearing was scheduled for a judge to determine if probable cause to detain a juvenile arrested without a warrant was proper.

Filed jointly by the Law Firm of Adele D. Nicholas, and the Law Office of Mark G. Weinberg, the Plaintiffs attorneys assert that holding the youth beyond 40 hours is illegal and a violation of Plaintiffs constitutional rights; specifically, the 4th Amendment which entitles the right to a probable cause hearing within 48 hours of arrest.

Taking into consideration that the youth were arrested on a Friday evening – after regular court hours – the next available court dates were the following business day which fell on a Monday, excluding holidays. Consequently, the youth were detained for 70, 55, 72 and more than 55 hours respectively, before they could see a judge, according to the lawsuit.

Further, the filing asserts that unlike adults who have access to “probable cause” hearings seven days a week and even on holidays; Cook County youth, on the other hand are routinely detained illegally, because there are no hearings scheduled on the weekends to accommodate them.

“The Department of Justice has admonished that jurisdictions that fail to provide arrested minors a hearing within 48 hours—including weekends and holidays—violate minors’ Fourth Amendment rights. See, e.g. , U.S. DOJ Investigation of the Shelby County Juvenile Court, April 4, 2012.”


Leonard Dixon, Superintendent Cook County Juvenile Detention Center

The suit enjoins the Defendant, Leonard Dixon because: “Dixon is the highest decision-maker with authority over the CCJTDC, and he determines the policies of the CCJTDC with respect to juvenile detainees’ custody and confinement.”

Chief Judge Timothy Evans is named due to the fact “He has final responsibility for setting court schedules for the Juvenile Justice Division, including the time and frequency of detention hearings.”

The county of Cook is named because: “The operations of the CCJTDC and the Circuit Court of Cook County are ultimately the financial responsibility of Cook County.”

In 2013, 6,036 juvenile probable cause hearings were scheduled in Cook County and an estimated ten percent (603), if those arrested, were arrested on a Friday. All three parties bear responsibility for creating this problem and ultimately all parties bear responsibility for providing relief the suit claims.

In response to the above allegations, the Circuit Court of Cook County will start holding weekend and holiday hearings for detained juveniles, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans announced in a press release earlier this month.

“The Circuit Court previously followed the practice – in compliance with state law that other counties in the state have also followed – of holding the hearings only on weekdays. The new weekend and holiday hearings will begin on November 5, 2016 and be held at 11 a.m. at the Juvenile Center, 1100 S. Hamilton Ave,” the release states.

“Cook County established the first juvenile court in the nation in 1899, and we are continuing to treat juveniles humanely, with due process and with respect.” Chief Judge Evans said. “I look forward to moving forward in the best interest of our juveniles.”


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