Monday, December 1, 2008

Housing Court Advocates Needed! December 4th

Remember the possibly gang-related beating death not too long ago on Cuyler? The third murder in Uptown this year? The building it occurred in - 820-826 W. Cuyler - has been in housing court for quite some time, and another hearing is coming up on Thursday, December 4th. If you can make it downtown for an hour or so, your presence would be greatly appreciated in court. Your appearance as a court advocate is powerful because it symbolizes community concern.

Meg Gillman, the Area 3 CAPS Building Coordinator, says: "For anyone wanting to get more involved with the community, here would be a great start. More than one murder has taken place around or in this building in the past two years. People need to go to court and get involved if the owner is going to be held accountable for the problems in and around it! Or if you have specific examples of concerns please call Meg (312-742-0991) and leave your contact info.

Just a reminder about the next hearing for 820-826 W. Cuyler:
Thursday, December 4th, 9:30 a.m.
Daley Center, Room 1111

Evidently the owner has not been making good progress on complying with the building violations. Please contact concerned neighbors to let them know about the next hearing. Thank you!"


  1. Go Judge Patti!

    He won't do anything, so don't get too excited.

  2. I dunno, Falco, I know you're an Esq. and everything, but I've been to housing court a lot as a court advocate and I've seen good things happen.

    Last month an owner didn't show up, and the neighbors of the property did, so the judge had us testify about what's been going on around the property -- and fined the absentee owner thousands of dollars. I've seen a slumlord lie in court... and get fined $25 grand. I've actually seen a propety owner try to get the court advocates banned from the courtroom because he was so threatened by us showing up time and time again (the judge let us stay, and entered our names into the court records as well).

    As a court advocate, housing court is my favorite -- because things get done. The bad guys pay up or fix things.

    I can't imagine the recent murder on the Cuyler property will make the owner look very good in the court's eyes. And Meg Gilman is a bulldog (I mean that in the nicest way -- she just doesn't let go when she's got a case in housing court).

  3. Fines don't mean anything if you don't get compliance.

    It has been awhile since I workeded in Housing court, so maybe you are right.

  4. I have always wondered why justice from our legal system requires the presence of court advocates. Shouldn't a judge base a decision on the merits of the case?

  5. The presence of court advocates lets the judge (and everyone else in the courtroom) know that the community is taking special interest in the case. If you've ever been in a Cook County courtroom, you know the meat-grinder aspects of it. It's dreary and depressing. It's just one big stream of cases, defendants, continuations, "Time served," complainants not showing up/cases dismissed. I can't imagine how sad it would be to experience it day after day.

    So when community members show up, it's notable. It puts a spotlight on the case. It takes away the conveyer-belt aspect.

    In all the times I've been in Housing Court (maybe 20 or so occasions), I've *never* seen court advocates for any other cases except the ones we're there for. The presence of community members personalizes the case. The prosecuting attorney can talk to the neighbors about how they're affected by the property. The judge has asked me, and other court advocates, to describe what's going on at the properties we're there for.

    The presence of court advocates certainly doesn't change the merits of the case, but I do think it's a reminder to everyone in th courtroom that these properties aren't solely numbers and redweld folders, but that they affect real people and neighborhoods.