The spirit of giving back is alive and growing at Elgin-based Administer Justice, a nonprofit group that offers low-income residents with legal advice and representation for free or at reduced rates.
According to the group's annual report, the number of volunteer hours donated by attorneys and volunteers was 12,446 in 2013, a 9 percent jump from 2012. And the number of pro bono court cases handled increased by 76 percent.
The value of these volunteer hours equates to more than $1.7 million.
Overall, the total hours in 2013 was more than double 2009, when the 5,795 volunteer hours were logged.
"Our mission to administer justice, restoring what is broken and righting what is wrong, is increasingly relevant as many more of our suburban neighbors are in need," wrote Eric Nelson, who took over as the group's executive director in late 2013.
The organization also expanded its office space last year, opened a fourth branch clinic, and began a program to educate people and attorneys about the crime of human trafficking.
For more information about volunteering or to donate, visit administerjustice.org or call (847) 844-1100.
Prison for domestic abuse: A 37-year-old man recently was sentenced to five years in prison for beating his girlfriend less than three months after his release from parole for attempted murder.
Demetrius D. Couzens, most recently of the 0-99 block of Galligan Road, Gilberts, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery with great bodily harm.
Prosecutors said Couzens and the victim argued March 17, 2013, at their shared Gilberts residence. When the woman tried to leave, he punched her, knocked her to the floor and picked up hammer, threatening to kill her with it.
Couzens must serve 85 percent of his sentence and gets credit for 380 days spent in jail while the case was pending. Judge Thomas Stanfa accepted the plea.
In 2005, Couzens was sentenced to eight years in prison for attempted murder for the beating of a woman he knew.
"This defendant is a textbook abuser who targets women," Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon said.
Elgin man gets another chance: A 58-year-old Elgin man who was accused of home invasion with a firearm in November 2013 recently pleaded guilty to lesser charges and received probation instead of prison.
Donnie L. Beavers, of the 2200 block of Toftress Trail, pleaded guilty to felony trespassing and received 30 months probation, nearly $2,700 in fines and court costs, and spent 32 days in jail while his case was pending.
Prosecutors dismissed the most serious charge, which carried a minimum six-year prison term, in exchange for the plea.
The plea was accepted by Judge James Hallock. Beavers could be resentenced to up to three years in prison if he violates probation.