Lake County judge blocks Cook County court layoffs

Updated 12/6/2017 5:43 PM

Lake County circuit court Judge Mitchell Hoffman has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the layoff of more than 150 Cook County court employees.

Lawyers representing the Office of the Chief Judge Timothy Evans argued for the county to provide at least $290 million in the 2018 budget -- over $40 million more than he's slated to receive. Evans' lawsuit argues that the job cuts will hobble the court system and that County Board President Toni Preckwinkle overstepped her authority.

Attorneys representing the chief judge argued that the judge's office is part of a "unified state court system," which means it is an independent, coequal branch of the state. The county's amended budget, passed nearly three weeks ago, lays out cuts by position, an action that Sunil Bhave, an Illinois assistant attorney general representing Evans, said is an "intrusion" on the chief judge's authority.

In a 12-page opinion, Hoffman agreed.

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