Courthouse Cell-Phone Ban Postponed to April

By DNAinfo Staff on January 11, 2013 7:26pm

 Michael Scott, 57, makes one last call from his cell phone before leaving the George N. Leighton Criminal Courts Building. The courthouse cell phone ban was supposed to go into full effect Monday but now will be introduced over a three-month grace period.
Michael Scott, 57, makes one last call from his cell phone before leaving the George N. Leighton Criminal Courts Building. The courthouse cell phone ban was supposed to go into full effect Monday but now will be introduced over a three-month grace period.
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DNAinfo/Wendell Hutson

CHICAGO — People arriving at Chicago's criminal courthouses Monday won’t have to ditch their cell phone if they want to get inside after all. At least not yet.

Chicago’s courthouse cell phone ban — supposed to go into effect Monday — will be introduced over a three-month “grace period,” according to a court order enacted Friday.

In the order, Judge Timothy Evans also expanded the list of those exempt from the ban to include domestic violence advocates and victims.

The original measure banned cell phones and other devices that can take photos from entering 13 Cook County criminal courthouses. It provides greater protection for witnesses and judges, Evans said in a statement.

During the grace period, it will be “strongly suggested” people leave cell phones in their car or with someone outside, but they’ll still be allowed in.

If the phones are powered up inside a courtroom, however, people could be held in contempt of court and face penalties, according to the release.

Courts will also be working toward a storage or claim check system for those taking public transportation. Previously, no storage facilities were going to be provided.

The grace period ends April 15.

"We understand this may be an inconvenience to some, but our primary goal is to protect those inside our courthouses and perhaps save lives in the process," Evans said in the release.

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