CHICAGO – State Senator Michael E. Hastings (D-Frankfort) joined Cook County Circuit Court Clerk Iris Y. Martinez for a press conference Wednesday to discuss shared legislative efforts to restore public trust and increase transparency in Cook County government.

“A government’s job, first and foremost, is to serve in the best interest of the public,” Hastings said. “That means it is our responsibility to make more public records available so those in office are held to the highest possible ethical standard. I am humbled to have the opportunity to collaborate with Clerk Martinez on this legislation and to further the dialogue in Springfield on increased government accountability and transparency.”

“We strongly believe the public has the right to know how public dollars are being spent, and more importantly, that they have access to that information,” Martinez said. “Including the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office under the Local Records Act makes sure that information remains public even after my tenure as the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook Country.”

Senate Bill 583 would include the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County under the Local Records Act, providing greater transparency to the public regarding how the clerk’s office uses its public funds. The Circuit Court Clerk’s Office is a non-judicial office of the judiciary, and not a local government or public body currently subject to FOIA.

Additionally, the legislation requires all clerks of circuit courts to accept credit card payments over the internet for fines, penalties, court costs, and other costs, providing convenience for a county’s citizens when paying fines and fees.
This legislation will be considered before the Senate in the coming weeks.