Cook County expanding capacity for trials as COVID-19 eases

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CHICAGO (AP) — Cook County’s courts are moving to expand their capacity to hold trials as COVID-19 restrictions ease amid a looming backlog of felony cases. Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans announced Friday that 86 county courtrooms will become available for trials starting July 23. Evans’ office says 76 of those courtrooms can be used for juries, thanks to reduced social-distancing guidelines. Downtown Chicago’s Leighton Criminal Court Building has been facing a serious backlog of felony cases due to pandemic-related court slowdowns. The Chicago Tribune reports prosecutors are bracing for what could be a flood of demands for trials, once the speedy-trial clock begins ticking again Oct. 1.

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