Cook County Circuit Court adjudicates criminal, civil and probate cases. The cases entered in the court system becomes public record. These records are open to anyone who wants to review them. However, the courts are not subject to FOIA. The records are kept by the Cook County Clerk's office.

The data inventory is a list of the information that's collected by the Cook County Circuit Court for anyone who's charged with a crime.

Data Inventory

The data inventory is a list of the information that's recorded by the Cook County Circuit Court for all the cases they hear. This inventory is different from the others in that it is divided into four categories:

  1. Data readily available,
  2. Data available through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, and
  3. Data that is collected but not available.

Open Data

The only publicly availble data is accessible in person.

FOIA Accessible Data

A judge has ruled that Court data is immune to FOIA requests. This may not apply equally to all units operating under the Court.

Requestable Data

Although there is no requirement for them to meet it, is possible to request any of the Court's data. Whether or not such requests will be satisfied is at the discretion of the Chief Judge of the Cook County Court, which is currently Judge Timothy Evans. The Chicago Justice Project was successful in requesting data about Convictions:

  • Case Number
  • Sequence of charges number (for example, 001, 002, 003 if the defendant has 3 charges)
  • Offender's Last Name
  • Offender's First Name
  • Offender's Middle Initial
  • Offender's Street Address
  • City & Sate
  • Zip Code
  • Booking Number
  • Finger Print Number
  • State Police Identification Number
  • FBI Identification Number
  • Date of Birth
  • Arrest Date
  • Date case entered in to Cook County Court Computer System
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Statue of statuatory or local ordinace for which the defedent was convicted
  • Initial Charge Description
  • Initial Charge Type
  • Additional Charge Types
  • Initial Charge Class
  • Initial Charge Disposition
  • Date of Charge Disposition
  • Amended Charge Disposition
  • Amended Charge Description
  • Amended Charge Type
  • Amended Charge Class
  • Defendant's Minimum Imposed Sentence
  • Defendant's Maximum Imposed Sentence
  • Amount of Defendant's Fine
  • Current status of case (what occureed at the latest appearance in court)
  • Date of latest court appearance that has taken place
  • Agency that arresed offender
  • Judge that is hearing the case

Unavailable Data

Because the Court approves data releases on a case by case basis, there is no set standards as to what data is and is not available.

How to Access the Data

In Illinois, and at the Federal level, the courts do not have to abide by the Freedom of Information Act. The Chicago Justice Project has released 5 years of Cook County Court Conviction Data, which they were successful in requesting.

Court records are also deemed to be open for public inspection and can be viewed during normal working hours by going to the appropriate Circuit Court to view them. The Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court maintains both the court paper records and the electronic data the courts generate.

To attempt to get access to additional electronic court data you have to file a request for such data with the Chief Judge's office. If your request is approved it is then sent to the Circuit Court Clerk's office and they will provide you the data.

National Models for Releasing Justice Data

Maryland Courts

The Maryland Courts allow access to the most robust amount of data of any court we located. Their website lists what occurs in every court hearing while also detailing information regarding the officer that arrested the defendant, the prosecutor(s) prosecuting the case, and the judge presiding over the case. This site also details information regarding the defendant's lawyer. Not a single court would allow the bulk downloading of data involved in the cases.

Other Models

This project is part of the Smart Chicago Collaborative's Civic Works Project, a program funded by the Knight Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust to spur support civic innovation in Chicago.

Our partners for this project are Chicago Justice Project, a nonprofit research organization, and FreeGeek Chicago's Supreme Chi-Town Coding Crew (SC3). You can find the code backing this website on Github. We used the Chicago Tribune's Tarbell content management system to build our site. Content and code is under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence.