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Dorothy Brown: Candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

WTTW’s 2016 Voters’ Guide to the General Election is an online resource designed to inform voters about the candidates running for office in the November 8 election.

Candidates were given two minutes to tell voters where they stand on the issues, why they feel they are best qualified and what they intend to do if elected or re-elected. The messages were recorded at the WTTW studios at no cost to the candidates. The Voters’ Guide is an online version of Candidate Free Time, pioneered by WTTW in the 1992 race for U.S. Senate. This year’s Candidate Free Time is underwritten in part by the League of Women Voters of Cook County and the City Club of Chicago.

About this office: Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County is the keeper of the records of the Court. The Clerk is responsible for serving the court, the legal profession and the general public by recording court decisions and events; handling fines, bail bonds and other financial transactions; and supporting the court system with record storage, microfilming, automation and other services.

Candidate Free Time is underwritten in part by the League of Women Voters of Cook County and the City Club of ChicagoCandidate Free Time is underwritten in part by the League of Women Voters of Cook County and the City Club of Chicago

About this candidate:

Name: Dorothy Brown
DOB: 9/3/1953
Residence: Chicago, IL
Family: Dr. Benton T. Cook III, husband; Detris Brown, daughter
Occupation: Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, 2000—present
Political Experience: Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, 2000—present

Candidate Q&A

What is your vision for this office?

In these very serious times, especially for our criminal justice system, I want to be the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County to ensure that the records are protected for all the citizens, not just the privileged few. I recognize that behind every court case file is a person whose fate or fortune depends on receiving fair and equitable treatment by the court system. I have a heart for public service and want to continue providing excellent record keeping services, promote expungement and enhance child support services.

The core function of the Clerk’s Office is record keeping. The mission is to ensure that all record keeping services are timely, accurate and complete. I will continue improving the efficiency of court case management from case initiation to disposition. To improve case management, I will increase automation capacity, update existing management processes and promote 100% user acceptance of existing green technology. I will:

• Purchase a state-of-the-art case management system that will be integrated with other justice agencies. The system will provide justice partners with upgraded management reports, permit general electronic filing for both attorneys and individuals, permit attorneys to file electronic draft orders and motions directly with judges, as well as permit judges to review orders and motions and rule on them electronically. The new system will expedite the administration of justice.

• Work with judges to make all courtrooms e-Courtrooms. This would enable judges, attorneys, parties to cases, and jurors to see electronic images of documents, evidence and exhibits on large screens and computers. There would be computers on attorney desks and a portable electronic podium for attorneys to see images while standing in front of the judge.

• Expand the Interactive Order System (IOS). Currently in a pilot phase, IOS allows judges to enter court orders directly into a computer to produce dispositions for the Clerk’s electronic docket and various official court documents, such as half-sheets, bonding and warrant documents and agency draft orders.

• Request that the Illinois Supreme Court make the electronic record the official court record. This will permit court cases to move forward expeditiously because there would not be any papers to process.

• The Clerk’s Office has the technology to permit single electronic images of court records of cases to be shown over the internet. In order to do so, the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court must issue a rule allowing the Clerk’s Office to show images to the attorney of record and the parties to the case. Also, the Illinois Supreme Court must issue a special exemption from the Electronic Access Policy to show images to attorneys who are not of record to a case. I will work to obtain these approvals so that attorneys and self-represented litigants can view all civil case type court records.

The Office is nationally renowned for the life-changing, Second Chance Expungement Summits. For 11 years, we have helped thousands of people get their lives back on track and become productive, law-abiding citizens. I want to partner with a legal aid agency to create an Expungement Center that will help people clear their criminal record and receive comprehensive services to turn their lives around.

Also, I want to create a Task Force on Child Support Collection to fix the system once and for all for parents.

What is the most pressing issue facing Cook County, and how can you help address it?

The major issue facing Cook County’s justice agencies is the continuing fragmentation of information sharing across agencies. There is good news on this front. In December 2015, the Cook County Board finally approved funding for purchase of an Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) to facilitate communications between the different software applications used by the Chief Judge, Clerk of the Circuit Court, Public Defender, Sheriff, State’s Attorney and the Cook County Bureau of Technology.

The “Bus” was the brainchild of the Cook County Integrated Criminal Justice Information Systems (“CCICJIS”) Committee, which I organized and have chaired since 2002. Our goal was to develop an integrated criminal justice enterprise for Cook County. Together, the member agencies published a strategic plan and detailed plan of action, which have helped bring the entire justice system into the 21st century. However, much more work needs to be done to ensure that each agency reforms business processes to get the most out of the “Bus.” I will continue to chair CCICJIS to build effective and efficient processes.

Candidate Statement

Hi, I’m Dorothy Brown, your Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, and I ask you for your vote because in these very serious times, especially for our criminal justice system, it's important that we have a Clerk of Court that will protect court records for ALL the people, not just for the privileged few.

Your Clerk of the Court needs to possess the unique qualifications needed to run one of the largest court systems in the world; a multi-million dollar entity.

As an attorney, I understand the legal aspects of the office, and as a CPA and MBA, I am fully capable of managing its financial aspects. Additionally, having minored in technology in college and worked as an internal and external auditor, I have a keen understanding of the complex business processes and systems.

These are the credentials I have used to effectively transform the Clerk’s Office.

As the Clerk of Court, I converted an historically antiquated system into a highly functioning, progressive 21st Century Office, that’s equipped with electronic filing, a mobile app for searching civil and traffic cases, almost 200 million electronic images converted from documents filed, Digital Access Terminals, electronic traffic tickets, and several convenient online services.

We are nationally renowned for the life-changing Second Chance Expungement Summits we host annually, where we have helped thousands of people get their lives back on track to being productive, law-abiding citizens.

I have a heart for service; that’s what I have done and will continue to do.

As your Clerk of the Circuit Court, I have dedicated myself to helping fulfill our nation’s promise of “justice for all.”

I humbly ask you for your vote to continue this great public service.

See more candidates for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

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