Brown reflects on tenure as Kane County's chief judge

For the past three years as Chief Judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit, F. Keith Brown has enjoyed the third-floor view from the Kane County Judicial Center in St. Charles.

Come Monday, Brown will return to a different view that he also enjoys: from the bench at the Old Courthouse in Geneva.

Brown's tenure as chief judge is coming to an end Friday. Judge Robert Spence will take the chief judge reins on Monday after his colleagues and fellow judges elected him to a two-year term.

Brown, a lifelong Elgin resident and the circuit's first black chief judge, says he's eager to get back to hearing cases, but was honored serving residents in making the courthouse more user-friendly, protecting domestic violence victims and helping move the county court technology forward.

“This has been one of the most fantastic periods of my life,” Brown said this week. “I've learned a lot. It was fantastic to serve the community.”

Brown helped oversee the new $4 million traffic court facility that opened in May at 530 Randall Road — next to the circuit clerk's office — in St. Charles.

The move helped ease traffic and congestion at the judicial center, where it was difficult to find parking and the line to pass through security stretched out the door in winter months.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon credited Brown with bringing differing interests together, working to ensure the courthouse was run efficiently and initiating some new fees to shift the court costs to offenders.

“He's provided great leadership to the different stakeholders,” McMahon said. “Whenever a challenge comes up in this building, he's willing to sit down and find a solution.”

Brown also helped mediate a settlement in a lawsuit between Kane County Circuit Clerk Deb Seyller and the county board that stemmed over staffing her office. Although legal fees ran more than $500,000, the settlement helped avoid a costly trial and provided a blueprint to update the county's case management system.

Brown also worked with the state's attorney's office and probation department to make sure the county was able to enforce the “Bischof Law,” after it took effect on Jan. 1, 2009.

It was signed in August 2008 and requires people who violate orders of protection to wear GPS monitoring devices.

The law was passed after Arlington Heights resident Cindy Bischof was shot and killed March 7, 2008 by her former boyfriend, who was harassing her despite several court orders.

“It took a lot of work upfront to put the system in place so we could follow the law,” said Jody Gleason, Kane's first assistant state's attorney. “He was instrumental in that.”

Tragic domestic violence death leads to new monitoring legislation

New Kane traffic court gets revved up later this week

  Kane County Chief Judge F. Keith Brown is a lifelong Elgin resident. LAURA STOECKER/
  F. Keith Brown speaks after being sworn in three years ago as Kane CountyÂ’s chief judge. JOHN STARKS/
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