Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Woodstock's new court - August 13

Woodstock's new Administrative Adjudication Court ("Court") opens for business on Thursday, August 13, 2009, at 9:30AM. Where does this all happen? Right in the City Council chambers at City Hall.

For the full scoop, visit City Hall and pick up your own copy of Publication 5, Administrative Adjudication. Or you can let your fingers do the walking, and just go to the City's website at www.woodstockil.gov and then click on "Good Neighbor Brochures" (left side) and then click on "5 Administrative Adjudication."

It is set up to print on two pages, which you can then glue back-to-back. Or if you are really proficient with your printer, print one page, feed the paper back in and print Page 2.

The cover informs the reader that s/he can read the Rules and Regulations governing Hearing procedures online, but you'll need better eyes than I have to find them. They might be there, but I can't find them.

The brochure identifies the Court as being in the Administrative Adjudication Division, which would seem to indicate that it is part of a Department of the City. A search of Departments on the City's website does not reveal such a Division.

Here are the types of cases to be heard by the Court, either initially or in the future:
  • Building Code Violations
  • Zoning Code Violations
  • Community Code Violations
  • Police Issued Tickets (ah-ha!)
  • Red Light Tickets (future)
  • Parking Tickets
  • Smoking Tickets
Reasons for establishing the Court are listed in the brochure, but they forgot a good one. Having the Court run by the City of Woodstock means all the money stays right at home, instead of going into the Circuit Court coffers, where only a piece makes its way back to Woodstock.

The brochure explains that the City's case will be presented by the City's attorney "or sworn representative." Let's hope this is not just a cash cow for the City Attorney. Administrative Adjudication Courts are sometimes billed as a lower-cost alternative than Circuit Court. Maybe neither side should have attorneys. Just cut them out of the picture.

Let the City's police or code enforcement officer tell it to the judge, and then let the defendant tell his story in plain English; then let the judge decide. One glitch? If the defendant can't tell it in plain English, no interpreter will be provided by the Court. So, if you speak Spanish (only), Polish, Russian or Moonlish, you'll have to bring your own interpreter who is at least 18 years old.

Don't forget to turn off your cell phones.

Will court costs be added to fines? If so, how much are the costs for this Court?

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