This assessment of the feasibility of establishing
night courts for narcotics cases drew heavily on
the experience of Cook County, Illinois, Circuit
Court. To summarize the findings:
■ Night operations can be quite efficient.
Coincident with setting up its drug night
courts, Cook County cut processing time
for narcotics cases dramatically.
■ Those wishing to set up drug night courts
need to be vigilant to ensure that the
quality of justice in narcotics cases is not
com-promised. In Cook County, research
found that the establishment of drug night
courts coincided with more lenient
sentences, fewer trials, and a lower rate of
representa-tion by private attorneys for
narcotics de-fendants. All but the last
consequence likely resulted from
segregating narcotics cases with greater
emphasis on productivity, rather than from
evening operations per se.
■ Quality staff can be successfully found for
evening hours. Cook County has shown
that there are a number of innovative ways
to recruit motivated people to staff night
■ To maintain high morale and efficiency,
jurisdictions considering evening
operations must be alert to special
problems their staff members may
encounter when working at night.
TO DRUG NIGHT COURT
arrests). That represents a caseload-to-judge ratio of
500 to 1. Still, the county board was reluctant to add
courtrooms or additional staff.
Presiding Judge Thomas Fitzgerald and Administra-
tive Director Jeffrey Arnold decided upon a dual strat-
egy to cope with the crisis. First, Chief Judge Harry
Comer-ford invited the National Center for State
Courts to do
a thorough analysis of current resources and case-
loads for the entire Cook County court system. Offi-
cials are confident that, when the results of the 4-year
investigation are in, they will adequately document for
the county board the need for additional courtrooms.
The second part of their response to the strains
placed on the system by the increased caseload was
to extend the court’s hours of