Chris Kachiroubas: Candidate profile, DuPage County circuit court clerk
Republican Chris Kachiroubas is facing a challenge from Democrat Candice Adams for DuPage County circuit court clerk in the Nov. 3 general election.
Adams, an attorney from Lisle seeking her first elected post, is facing incumbent Kachiroubas of Elmhurst, who has served as clerk since 2004.
The circuit court clerk's primary function is to establish, maintain and keep all records of the court.
The Daily Herald recently asked the candidates to answer a series of questions. Here are the replies from Kachiroubas.
Q. Why are you running for this office, whether for reelection or election for the first time? Is there a particular issue that motivates you? If so, what?
A: The innovation, efficiency and accessibility that I have led in DuPage County continues to motivate me.
In March 2016, Illinois Supreme Court issued MR 18368, wherein, as of Jan. 1, 2018 ALL Circuits of the State of Illinois shall file mandatorily, all civil documents with certain exceptions, through electronic filings. The Supreme Court via the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts entered into an agreement with a national company and over the next 18 months migrated all 101 counties onto an electronic filing management system to help facilitate with the Supreme Court order regarding mandatory e-filing.
The DuPage County Court was the only circuit granted an exemption due to our having a superior system already in place and the time required to build a bridge to a less advanced system to meet the required timeline.
DuPage County was granted a startup date of July 1, 2019. As the second largest circuit in the state, it is critical that we, DuPage migrate onto the new platform to establish a uniform electronic filing system.
Along with our day-to-day essential duties, my ultimate desire is to oversee the installation and success of e-filing in 18th Judicial Circuit.
Q. If you are an incumbent, describe your main contributions. Tell us of any important initiatives you've led. If you are a challenger, what would you bring to the position and what would your priority be?
A: We have created a user-friendly online system for orders of protection. The petitioner can do this from a computer at home, local libraries, local township offices, in the Circuit Clerk's office, or Family Shelter office.
Once the form is completed or started, the petitioner must go to Clerk's office. One of our multilingual, diversely experienced clerks will assist the petitioner in the next steps. From the Clerk's office the petition is then filed, a case number is assigned, and is immediately available in electronic form for the judge to consider.
The judge and law enforcement are then able to electronically proceed to issue, serve and enforce the order of protection. The online orders of protection system supports civil no contact, stalking no contact, criminal orders of protection, firearms restraining orders, as well as the standard order of protection forms.
This is a critical safety measure that I advanced in order to ensure that the person requiring protection, a majority of these individuals are women and moms trying to protect their children and themselves, can apply and quickly gain access to a judge in order to get this protection in place and enforceable.
Q. Describe your position regarding the allocation of resources in the clerk of the circuit court's office. Are personnel allocated as they should be? Are there capital expense or other budgetary items that the office must address, and, if so, how do you propose to address them?
A: My staff has decreased by almost 25% through attrition, since I was first elected and over 80% of the personnel are cross-trained to support many different tasks.
My budget has had a zero increase, in total, since taking office in 2004 and the Circuit Clerk Office returns almost 2% per year to the county general fund. We will continue high-quality support to the courts, public, policing agencies, county departments (state's attorney, public defender, probation, sheriff, appellate court), while operating with a reduced number of personnel, we are doing more with less.
We are accomplishing this primarily by making use of technology, some specifics include: modernized websites; sharing of information through interfaces between the Clerk's Case Management System and those of the state's attorney, probation, sheriff, WebRMS; integration with the state-required EfileIL system for civil filings; implementation of Criminal Traffic and Assessment Act requirements (the new law has completely redeveloped how filing fees, fines and costs are assessed); and modernization and expanded use of the VP2 Electronic Citation application and the increased use of electronic court orders.
Q. Name one concrete program you'll create or personnel move you'll make to improve efficiency in the office or make it more successful. Explain how it will be funded and how you will overcome any obstacles to initiating it.
A: I will continue to press the Secretary of State to add email addresses to the minimum identifiers for driver's licenses renewals.
Our office could use email for court appearances, reminders for court appearances, and for all related official contact with the defendant. This would allow for a large savings in postage, manpower, and paper.
My first letter to the Secretary of State was in 2011, I will continue to pursue the issue because of the potential benefits to the taxpayer. When running in 2004, it was my goal to eliminate the use of driver's license as a form of bond for traffic violations. While there was opposition to this proposal at the state level, I felt that our license is our primary form of identification and other systems could be in place that would remove this requirement.
While systems of government and policy change can be slow, I am proud to say that this has been accomplished through leadership and communication while offering solutions. The capturing of emails during the driver's license renewal process will be another efficiency that can be achieved.
Q. Describe your position on transparency in the office and the ease of access to records by the public. If you believe improvements are needed, what are they and how would you go about achieving them?
A: Over the last couple of years, terms like transparency, ease of access, and the accessing of documents maintained by the Circuit Clerk's Office have been debated.
All policies on access to any record or information of the court begins and ends with the Illinois Supreme Court and local court rules.
Anyone telling you different is just plain misinformed. Since 2002, the Supreme Court has published "Illinois Supreme Court Remote Access Policy."
This policy has been updated several times, even in the last couple years and months through the work of the Supreme Court E-Business Policy Advisory Board of which I have been member since 2015. The "key principles" are clear the Supreme Court will continue to move forward to strike the right balance between the ... "unrestricted access to certain court records (that) could result in unwarranted invasion of personal privacy and unduly increase the risk of irrevocable harm."
Even as a "nonjudicial officer of the circuit court," my office has limitations in the unilateral dispensing of court records and or information.
I will continue to maintain the record and continue to work with the court for a greater access to justice.