Cir­cuit court clerk’s of­fice down­plays ‘ Feb. 30’ stamp

Doc­u­ments in 9 cases er­ro­neously la­beled with date

Chicago Sun-Times - - POLITICS - BY CHRIS FUSCO Email: cfusco@sun­times.com Twit­ter: @ Fus­coChris

Staff Reporter Leap day be­came a two­day af­fair on a hand­ful of doc­u­ments filed with Cook County Cir­cuit Clerk Dorothy Brown’s of­fice — a mi­nor but ill- timed er­ror that comes as the county courts’ record­keeper is fight­ing crit­i­cism from her political op­po­nents that her of­fice is tech­no­log­i­cally in­ept.

With the Demo­cratic pri­mary now lit­tle over a week away, one of Brown’s em­ploy­ees didn’t re­set the date on a file- stamp ma­chine in the chancery court divi­sion on Tues­day, said Ja­lyne StrongS­traw, Brown’s spokes­woman.

That led to doc­u­ments in nine court cases er­ro­neously get­ting stamped Feb. 30, 2016, in­stead of March 1, 2016, ac­cord­ing to StrongS­traw.

The mis­take was caught quickly, and the doc­u­ments got re- stamped, said StrongShaw, who called it a “hu­man er­ror not un­like when a ty­po­graph­i­cal mis­take oc­curs in a news­pa­per.”

But a pic­ture of one wrongly stamped doc­u­ment sur­faced on Twit­ter and Face­book, pro­vid­ing fod­der for Brown’s political foes, who said the goof sym­bol­izes a litany of tech­no­log­i­cal prob­lems that the four- term in­cum­bent has heaped on lawyers, judges and tax­pay­ers over the years.

“Those of us who prac­tice in the courts reg­u­larly know that in­cor­rect date stamps are a reg­u­lar oc­cur­rence,” said Chicago at­tor­ney Ja­cob Meis­ter, one of Brown’s two op­po­nents in the March 15 pri­mary. “The clerk’s job is to keep ac­cu­rate records. Use of this an­ti­quated time­stamp tech­nol­ogy is just an­other ex­am­ple of where our cur­rent clerk has failed to keep up with mod­ern best prac­tices.”

Strong- Shaw shrugged off the crit­i­cism, not­ing that the clerk’s of­fice takes in about 5,000 new cases a day and say­ing, “Date- stamp­ing er­rors rarely oc­cur.

“The file- stamp ma­chines au­to­mat­i­cally up­date,” she said. “How­ever, for a unique month like Fe­bru­ary, the first busi­ness date of the next month has to be man­u­ally set.”

Brown has said she has moved her of­fice for­ward tech­no­log­i­cally, for in­stance im­ple­ment­ing on­line case­fil­ing and traf­fic- ticket pay­ment sys­tems.

A big­ger po­ten­tial prob­lem for Brown in the fi­nal days of the cam­paign is an FBl in­ves­ti­ga­tion of her of­fice that led the Cook County Demo­cratic Party to take back its en­dorse­ment of her and in­stead back Chicago Ald. Michelle Har­ris ( 8th), Brown’s other op­po­nent.

Ac­cord­ing to fed­eral court records, a lower- level cir­cuit clerk’s em­ployee has pleaded not guilty to a charge that he lied to a fed­eral grand jury that had been “in­ves­ti­gat­ing the pur­chas­ing of jobs and pro­mo­tions” in Brown’s of­fice — in­clud­ing a lie about whether he had spo­ken to Brown af­ter he was re­hired.

Though her county cell­phone was seized as part of the FBI probe, Brown has said she’s done noth­ing wrong.

Har­ris said she is plan­ning tele­vi­sion ads to re­mind vot­ers about the crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Brown’s of­fice. Meis­ter al­ready is air­ing a com­mer­cial that takes note of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Face­book im­age of the Feb. 30 stamp fromthe cir­cuit court clerk’s of­fice.

| RICH HEIN/ SUN- TIMES FILE

Cook County Cir­cuit Court Clerk Dorothy Brown’s of­fice said “date- stamp­ing er­rors rarely oc­cur.”

HEIN/ SUN- TIMES FILE PHO­TOS | RICH

At­tor­ney Ja­cob Meis­ter ( top) and Ald. Michelle Har­ris ( 8th, above) are chal­leng­ing Dorothy Brown in the cir­cuit court clerk’s race.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.