If you’re not aware, McHenry County actually holds court in two “courthouses”. There’s the main courthouse at 2200 N. Seminary (right on Route 47) in Woodstock. There’s also a “branch” court that meets on Wednesdays in the City of McHenry village board meeting room.
Most counties have these branch courts. In fact, most counties have many more of them than McHenry County. The de-centralized court systems are more convenient to the public. As they often times pop up in odd, inexpensive-to-rent places, the costs to operate can be relatively low. How much can it really cost to use village board meeting rooms (like Carpentersville and Elgin branch courts, Mchenry branch court), strip mall store fronts (there used to be a whole bunch of these in Lake County) or VFW Halls (like Downer’s Grove Field court) to rent?
Branch courts typically hear minor offenses and ordinance offenses. For example, if you received a speeding ticket for which the officer has marked that you “must appear” in court- these would often go to a more local, convenient branch court when available. By comparison, McHenry County had one of these as opposed to the higher number in Lake County (5), Kane County (4), DeKalb County (2).
The press release issued on the closure of McHenry branch court doesn’t offer any detail on why it’s closing, or if they will open another branch court elsewhere:
The Twenty Second Judicial Circuit of McHenry County has recently announced that the McHenry Branch Court held at the Municipal Building in the City of McHenry, will close effective January 1, 2015. All cases will continue be heard on Wednesdays; however, the hearings will take place at the McHenry County Government Center located at 2200 N. Seminary Ave. in Woodstock.
On behalf of the Twenty Second Judicial Circuit, we wish to want to thank the City of McHenry for their years of hospitality.
As parking there was often difficult (to say the least) and the branch court was oddly located (given the county’s population concentration mainly in the southeast part of the county), I suppose it’s not surprising. While I’m really going to miss being close to my buddies at McHenry City Police Department, I’m hoping a branch court will pop up in the Algonquin/Lake In The Hills/Crystal Lake area soon.