Keeping Offices Safe

Clerk Yarbrough sits down with Lee Neubecker, President & CEO of Enigma Forensics to discuss the current state of affairs. Clerk Yarbrough assures everyone voting on Tuesday, March 17 voters will be met with a clean and safe environment. Come and Vote and March 17!

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough Gives Safe Voting Practices

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough would like voters to know her staff is taking every precaution to make all voting stations a safe and clean environment. On top of her list, everyone should wash your hands! She says all voting staff will continuously wipe down all surfaces and are trained to keep the stations clean. Clerk Yarbrough urges everyone to remember the rules your mother gave you!…Wash your hands, sneeze into your sleeve and if you have a fever stay home from work, don’t go out and stay in and take care of yourself. Clerk Yarbrough sits down with Lee Neubecker, President & CEO of Enigma Forensics to discuss the current state of affairs.

Check out this video interview to find out what precautionary steps the Clerk’s department has taken to make sure each voting office stays safe.

Election Day is on Tuesday, March 17

Clerk Yarbrough says Keep Calm, We are on the Job!

Lee Neubecker: Hi, this is Lee Neubecker, president of Enigma Forensics, computer forensics firm based here in Cook County in Chicago. And I had the pleasure of having our very own Cook County Clerk, Karen Yarbrough, here on the show to talk a little bit about what her office is doing to help keep people safe, in light of the recent corona outbreak. Karen, thanks for being on the show.

Clerk Karen Yarbrough: Thank you, Lee. Well, you know, this is a really busy time for us and we have a number of, we have our regular employees and then we have a lot of people, almost 8,000 people, who will be involved in the election on the 17th. So we want everyone to be safe. So in the office, what we’re doing is, first of all, we’re educating people. Now, some of this stuff is just common sense. I mean, people should know to wash their hands. They absolutely should know that. They also should know that if you have to sneeze, you don’t sneeze out like that, you go like this, okay? I mean, didn’t your mom teach you that? I mean, mine did, so. So the education or bringing it back to people on how we can keep safe. So our people have, they have obviously Purell. They have the gloves if they want to wear them. They also have, they clean their work stations. So we have everything that they need and we have a big influx of people for several reasons and especially in vitals and in elections and so we want everyone to be safe.

LN: So with the election fast approaching, I know that previously you were on the show to talk about early voting, in trying to get people to pull a ballot so that they could vote from home. It’s too late for that now, but what would you advise that people should do as they’re heading to the polls?

CY: Well, hopefully they’ll have a card or some information on who they want to vote for. They’re going to find our brand new voting machines there and it’ll probably take them all of two or three minutes to vote this time. So the ease of voting, they’re going to find friendly faces there and people who are willing to help them. We have the touchscreens and we also have paper ballots if people want to use ’em. But we’re encouraging people to use the touchscreen. If you want to use your finger, then you can wipe your finger off with, and we have everything there. I mean, absolutely.

LN: Like Purell?

CY: Absolutely, we have everything there. They could use a pen to do this, you know. They could use their, bring their own pen if they want to fill out a paper ballot. So, you know, again we’re telling people use some common sense here as it relates to, you know, today and all through the last few days, what I’ve been doing is going to the early voting polling places and so I’ve met all of the judges and I see the way that they’re greeting people. They’re not shaking hands, they’re doing fist bumps or arm bumps. Yeah, like that or whatever, but they are not shaking hands. So, you know, as I’ve looked, and we’ve been looking at, watching what’s coming out of Washington, what’s coming out–

LN: Even here in Chicago

CY: Absolutely.

LN: Yesterday we had the Prudential building had their first case.

CY: Yeah, how about that? How about that? But you know what? For the most part, 80% of the people who contract it in the first place, they’re going to be fine. Children are going to be fine. It’s people who have compromised systems that have the problems. And older people. I get all of that, but people can be safe and they can be competent, use common sense and be safe.

LN: Yeah, like not jumping on an airline when you know you’ve tested positive. I don’t think you should do that if you have Corona Virus.

CY: Don’t come to work sick. We’re sending people home. Anybody’s around there sniffling or what have you or they don’t feel well, if they have a fever. If you got a fever, you ought to be at home. You shouldn’t be with us.

LN: And just because you have a fever, you shouldn’t be flipping out thinking you have Corona Virus.

CY: Not at all, not at all.

LN: They say that you need to have three specific symptoms combined to worry about it. You need body aches, fever, plus respiratory problems. So if you don’t have all of three of those, don’t bug your doctor. The doctors are under control.

CY: Don’t panic.

LN: Unless you, if you have a fever that runs awhile, call but don’t. Then you should assume that you have Corona Virus.

CY: I’m hoping that we get some better information out of Washington, though. There have been mixed messages there, so let’s hope that we can get better information out of Washington as well as what we need. I noticed that out governor was pretty frustrated about his inner workings with the federal government on what we need in Illinois. So let’s hope that they get that together.

LN: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks for being on the show again.

CY: Thank you.

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Voting Tips with Clerk Yarbrough

Cook County elections are on Tuesday, March 17. Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough assures everyone voting will be efficient and safe Check out these voting tips!

Every Vote Counts

Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough says tip number one – be prepared! Tip number two-do your homework on the candidates before you come in and vote. Lastly, it’s ok to bring your notes with you. She ensures that every precaution will be taken to make sure everyone is safe!

Clerk Yarbrough is excited to report, Cook County has all new voting machines that will streamline the voting process. She adds if you would prefer to use the old paper ballot they will have those available too. In addition, the new barcode system will accurately tally and record of voters ballot, which will make counting votes extremely efficient. After the election, Clerk Yarbrough says the office will do a full audit and confirm that every vote is counted She assures everyone voting will be safe and there will be plenty of antiseptic and gloves available! Watch this video as Lee Neubecker interviews Cook County Clerk Karen Yarbrough and asks about voter tips.

Tuesday, March 17 Vote for your Candidate!

The Video Transcripts Follows

Lee Neubecker: Hi, it’s Lee Neubecker, President of Enigma Forensics. I’m a cyber-security and computer forensic expert witness, and our firm’s based here in Chicago within Cook County, Illinois. And I have the pleasure of having our very own Cook County Clerk, Karen Yarbrough, appearing on the show today to talk to all of you about what you should know, what you should do, as you head out to vote in the next few days. Karen, thanks for being on the show and thanks for sharing these tips.

Clerk Yarbrough: Well, thank you Lee. Thank you for the opportunity. We wanted to be able to tell people what they can expect when they come to vote. For people who come to vote each and every time, they usually know. They, you need to be prepared, and one way you can prepare is by having your own notes on who you want to vote for. We have brand new machines this time, and those machines, it’s going to be a whiz. Everybody has told me they love the new machines. For those who are uncomfortable with using touch screens, we’re going to have the regular paper ballots. But, if you’re prepared to vote, it should take you a few minutes to just go straight through that ballot. And, you know, usually people have problems with all of the judges, do your homework before you come in.

LN: Well, it certainly will help speed up the lines and reduce congestion.

CY: Certainly, certainly.

LN: Also wearing gloves, if you’re really concerned, there’s nothing that prevents you from wearing gloves to vote.

CY: Not at all, we’ve seen a few. You can wear glasses. We’ve seen a few people with gloves on. We’ve seen a few people having their own pens because they plan to pull a, you know they want a paper ballot. So we’re going to, you know, bring your own pen if you’d like. We’re going to, at every station, we’re going to have the bacterial .

LN: The Purell?

CY: Yes, we’re going to have that. We wipe down the stations after each.

LN: You must have got yours early.

CY: Yes we did, yes we did.

LN: You were prepared.

CY: Yes, we wanted to be prepared. We wanted to be prepared. We were hearing about what was going on, and we know that we have one day to do the election actually. We have all of these days for early voting, but we have that one day and we got to get it right.

LN: Now, I’ve heard that there were some concerns regarding the barcode on some of the ballots that gets printed that that could be.

CY: I have no concerns about that, okay. The great thing about our new equipment is while you’ll put your ballot through and the barcode is there, but we have a record of each and every one of those ballots. If we have to go back, and we do, we go back and we review to make sure things are right.

LN: So, on paper it’s doing more than just the QR code. It also has the friendly names printed out.

CY: Yes

LN: Is that correct?

CY: Oh absolutely, yes.

LN: So the concerns that some people had were that, I think the concern was that the barcode could be different from what’s printed. But if that were the case, you’d be able to audit that after the fact.

CY: And we do a full-blown audit at the end of every election just to make sure.

LN: So someone voting, they’ll be able to actually see the print out on paper.

CY: They will be able to have that in their hands. They’ll be able to check their choices and then they will cast their own ballot, not us but them.

LN: And so it gets scanned and digitized, but then the physical ballot gets locked in the box, correct?

CY: Yes.

LN: So, there’s a dual system.

CY: Absolutely.

LN: I think that makes a lot of sense.

CY: It does, it does. And it gives people peace of mind. You hear all of these stories about well, my vote may not count, and this. I mean, all kinds of things. So to prevent those kinds of things, we have new equipment, and we have a new process, and I think people are going to like it.

LN: Great, well everyone get out there and vote. And, thanks Karen for all your work on this to help make sure election day goes smooth.

LN: Thanks.

CY: Thank you.

Cook County Clerk.com

https://www.cookcountyclerk.com/agency/2020-elections

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Debt Forgiveness with Jacob Meister

“Wipe out court debt!” says Jacob Meister, candidate for the Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court. He has a plan to ease the crushing burden of fines, fees, and forfeitures. Check out this video to learn more about his solutions.

Debt forgiveness is now one of the most popular presidential campaign promises but what does it mean on the local level. What does debt forgiveness mean for the City of Chicago taxpayers?

Enigma Forensics President & CEO Lee Neubecker interviews Jacob Meister, who is running for the office of Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court. Lee is interested to learn more about what are Jacob’s plans regarding debt forgiveness.

Part 3 of our 4-Part Series on the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Jacob Meister

Part 3 of our 4-Part Series

Part 3 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister

Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Jacob Meister back to my show, Jacob thanks for coming.

Jacob Meister: Well, thank you for having me Lee.

LN: Jacob’s running for Cook County Clerk of the court. And we’re going to talk today a little bit about some things that have been trending in the news related to debt forgiveness. From the federal student loan debt, there have been talks about wiping out the debt owned, lots of people are concerned over medical-related debt. But now there’s been some, some calls by one of the candidates running, requesting that we just wipe away the Quartet. And I wanted to get your feedback on what the problem is there, and what do you think the solution is?

JM: Well, for years, I have been an advocate for easing the burden with court fees that are charged to litigants, fines, and forfeitures that go through the clerk’s office. The clerk is required to collect fines, fees, and forfeitures that are implemented usually by statute, or by sometimes by the court rules themselves. But what we see is a tremendous economic cost and social injustice that’s done. So just imagine you’re a single mother who’s been evicted from your apartment or your home. And you in order, you get a summons from the sheriff saying you must appear or you’re going to get a default judgment entered against you. But first, you have to file an appearance and pay a fee. It’s going to be $250 to defend yourself. And if you don’t, you’re going to get defaulted. And this is a crushing burden, you know, single mother, and it can affect that anybody who’s battling an addiction, be it child custody, it could be dealing with a divorce, it could be dealing with any number of things. We need to stop placing a crushing burden on the users of the court systems and make up a system that’s available to everyone.

LN: But who decides what that fee is?

JM: that with that state legislator, and that’s the Supreme Court, and the county board. some of those fees go there too. We have to stop squeezing court users to pay these fees and start paying for it in other ways. But in any event, I have been a supporter of for instance, when people get fines if you have a fine, you know, you would support and post fine and some people can’t pay it and it becomes this burden and you get trapped and sometimes you get imprisoned. Because you can’t pay these fines that you’ve been ordered to by the court. One of the things that we that I worked on in Springfield and we need to expand is allowing people to get credit for community service so that they have if they can’t afford to pay the fines, they have a way that they can provide community service and reduce that fine over time. We have to come up we have to be better about how we handle these things. We know, we have to stop taking away people’s drivers licenses, because they can’t pay their fines because that puts them in a cycle of debt that they can never get out of, because all of a sudden, they can’t drive themselves to work, they lose their jobs.

LN: They can’t get a new job,

JM: they can’t get a new job. Exactly. So we need to ease the burden there. I will continue to work with the folks in Springfield, with the folks in Cook County government, and with the courts. I’ve got very good relations there, And I will work to make sure that social justice is being achieved, and that we’re not putting people in a vicious downward spiral of debt.

LN: So some of the efficiencies you talked about earlier about making the court more efficient. Some of those efficiencies might help to pay for some of this relief on some of the oppressed people that are really being trapped in a cycle.

JM: Absolutely. Absolutely. Absolutely. And that’s the goal is to make sure that our courts are accessible to everyone, that we’re doing justice, and that we’re achieving social justice. We’re not just trapping People in a court system and in burdensome debt.

LN: Well, thanks for being on the show again.

JM: Well, thank you for having me, Lee.

Part 1 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister

Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister

Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister, Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Candidate

View Jacob Meister’s website

htttp://jacobforclerk.com

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Jacob Meister’s First 90 Days

Most voters think the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s office is ground zero of what’s wrong ethically in Cook County government. Candidate Jacob Meister vows to clean up the office and deliver much needed ethical reform.

Enigma Forensics President & CEO Lee Neubecker interviews Jacob Meister, who is running for the office of Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court. Lee is interested to learn more about what Jacob Meister plans to do in his first 90 days in office.

View Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister, Candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Part 2 of our 4-Part Series on Cook County Clerk of Circuit Court Candidate Jacob Meister

The Video Transcript follows

Lee Neubecker: Hi, I have Jacob Meister, who’s running for Cook County Clerk of the Court. He’s back on my show today. Jacob, thanks for coming back on.

Jacob Meister: Thank you for having me.

LN: So, as a candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Court, which is one of the largest court systems in the U.S., what do you see as your top priority in your first 90 days in terms of fixing a big problem that needs to be addressed?

JM: Well, the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County’s office is ground zero of what’s wrong ethically in Cook County government, you know? The voters in recent years have elected a new Cook County Assessor, Fritz Kaegi, a new mayor, Lori Lightfoot, and have made clear that they demand ethical reform, in government, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court is ground zero of what needs to be fixed. This is an office that for decades and decades has been plagued with political patronage, political workers getting jobs at the public expense in order to do political work. We have to stop that, and in my first months in office, I want to make sure that we are cleaning up the office to make sure that we are delivering taxpayers value for their money and that employees are dedicated first, foremost and exclusively to serving the public interest in the clerk’s office. We cannot get over the operational problems that this office has until we first clean up the ethical issues. So, I want to make sure that the patronage in the office comes to an end. That we comply, there’s currently a federal decree, it’s called the Shakman Decree, that the office is under that requires patronage to hiring, to not be done by patronage. I want to make sure that people are promoted from within, not given these political jobs where employees are beholden to the party machine.

LN: Great, well, thanks for being on the show, Jacob.

JM: Thank you, Lee.

View Part 1 of our 4-Part Series on Jacob Meister

Part 1 of our 4-Part Series on Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Candidate Jacob Meister

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What does the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court do?

Meet Jacob Meister candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court that oversees the second-largest court system in the United States. Jacob vows to improve and better manage over 400 judges in 14 different court locations all around Cook County.

The Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court is one of those offices that is not well known but is extremely important in the operation of one of the nation’s largest court systems. The Cook County Circuit Court is the second-largest court system in the United States. The Clerk of the Circuit Court is responsible for overseeing all the court records for many courts including small claims, chancery, civil, law, probate, child support enforcement, traffic, and criminal courts. There are over 400 judges in 14 different court locations all around Cook County.

In this video, Lee Neubecker interviews Jacob Meister, a candidate for the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court. Jacob Meister has been a practicing attorney in Chicago for 29 years. In his law practice, he has been a near-daily user of the Cook County Court system and he has experienced firsthand the tragically antiquated and inefficient operation of the Clerk of the Circuit Court’s office. Jacob Meister shares how he intends to reform the antiquated system, create a better judicial management workflow with transparency, efficiency and while running the office in an ethical manner.

Part 1 of our 4-Part Series on Meet Jacob Meister Candidate for the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

The Video Transcript for What Does the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court Do?

Lee Neubecker: Today I have on my show, Jacob Meister. Jacob’s running for Cook County Clerk of the Court. And he’s come on today to tell us all a little bit about what the Clerk of the Court does and what their role is. Thank you for being on the show.

Jacob Meister: Well, thank you for having me on, Lee. The Clerk of the Circuit Court is one of those offices that are not really well known but is extremely important in the operation of our courts. The Cook County Clerk oversees the second-largest court system in the United States. We have over 400 judges in 14 different court locations all around Cook County. And the Clerk of the Court is the chief operating officer effectively of the courts, overseeing everything from all the court records to staffing the courtrooms, the Court Clerk’s who take your oath when you go testify and then all of the intake and the counters. And they also oversee things like child support, about a half a billion dollars a year in fines, fees, and forfeitures. They handle all the accounting so that when a fine is paid, it goes to the right municipality or to the state or to whoever is entitled to that money for the fines. So it’s very important. The Clerk’s office is currently occupied, as you may know by Dorothy Brown. She’s retiring after 20 years. And we really need to rethink how the Clerk’s office works. I personally am the only one in the race who has actually practiced for 29 years in the Circuit Court of Cook County and made a career of it. And it’s an office that’s broken. It’s broken ethically and operationally. We still, unfortunately, as judges and lawyers hand write out orders in triplicate using carbon paper. And for a court system that has a million and a half cases pending, that means millions and millions and millions of pieces of paper just in court orders. We can do better. We have to do better. The private industry long ago automated, implemented technology. We need to do the same thing in courts. And let me just give you a couple of examples of the real-life consequences of what happens because of our broken technology. We have about 600 prisoners right now in the Cook County or in the state of Illinois prison system who have appealed their convictions and their convictions for more than a year, cannot move forward because the Clerk’s office has lost the paperwork. And this has been pretty widely reported on. But the other things are that you know, people end up getting evicted, they have child custody issues, they sit in the Cook County jail because our current system can’t get paperwork where it needs to be. It doesn’t have good auditing standards, accounting standards. We need to do better because it affects substantial justice.

LN: So will you put computers into the courtroom with printers so that the documents are being captured instantly, electronically?

JM: Well, it’s actually beyond that. So you’ve got two kinds of systems. You’ve got one system which is, a filing system. And right now, we are in the process of moving over so that when people file paperwork, it gets filed electronically. But the second system, which is yet to come is a case management system. So once those documents have been filed, we need a way to index everything. The current Clerk’s office runs on a DOS-based system that was implemented in the 1990s and it’s just an index system. But court systems all around the country have very robust case management systems that outline exactly what’s going on in the case. And instead of having written orders, you do digital orders so that, so that those digital orders, are called minute orders, are captured right in the courtroom, real-time, by the Court Clerks, noting such things as the next court date or what happened in the court, in the court hearing. There’s still going to be a percentage of things that need to be done on paper and then uploaded as PDFs but we can probably capture about 80% of our orders fully digitized so that there is no paper but goes in digitally. And that is a great first step and it helps eliminate errors. It makes sure that there’s a clear record that’s available, it needs to be available. Web-based from outside the court system too so the lawyers and judges-

LN: So you mean you had to come down on a cold Chicago day

JM: Correct.

LN: to stand in line. To pay your money, to make your photocopy and then schlep back.

JM: Correct. I mean, right now, they’ve got electronic filing so we file, we’re required to file digitally but if you want to get a copy of what’s been filed digitally in a case, you actually have to travel to a court location, print it out hard copy, pay for the hard copy and then, of course, I go back and scan it back into the system. It’s not available web-based. It’s not web-based for download, just like the rest of the world works and that’s a problem.

LN: There are systems out there though, commercial systems out there that are designed to snap in and take care of that, correct?

JM: Correct, there are case management systems that are in use. Cook County has a tremendously complex court system with lots of divisions and different sections all over the county so we need to be very highly customized. Cook County has committed to about 36 million dollars towards a new case management system. Problem is, they want to use an off the shelf software. They tried rolling them out in the criminal division back in November. It is fraught with problems. There hasn’t been proper training for the users. Actually, the judges and lawyers and others, including the Sheriff’s Department, the State’s attorney, all of the stakeholders in the system haven’t been consulted with bringing that onboard and so as a result, we’ve got a system that is at risk of just being shelved and not used any longer because it’s just fraught with problems and errors and lack of user training. We need to do a better job. We need to train people. We need to consult with all the end-users to make sure that our case management system meets the workflow of the courts, not the other way around and our current Clerk has tried to implement it in a way to say, “Here’s a system we’re going to use. Figure out how to organize your court system around our computer system.” That’s the tail wagging on the dog.

LN: So as a reformer, you really plan to make changes to speed up and get rid of the backlog of cases that currently jam up the court.

JM: Yeah, well, right now, we’ve got a huge backlog as I mentioned in the Appellate Court. You’ve got a huge backlog because the Circuit Court’s not transmitting proper records up to the Appellate Court so you got a huge backlog in the Appellate Court and you end up having a much slower process at the Circuit Court level because it’s all based on our old paper system movement of files from courts to warehouses, back to the courts, back and forth. Things are lost.

LN: That creates lots of jobs, right?

JM: Well, that is really, you know, we’ve got a very unfortunate patronage problem in the Clerk’s office. Clerk’s office has about 1500 employees and there’s a tremendous amount of political patronage that’s controlled by the party machine. The old way of doing business. We can’t afford to do that anymore. We got to deliver good value to the taxpayers, particularly as we move to electronic systems. It’s no longer a system that can operate with paper where somebody’s job is to stamp paper and then move the pile over to somebody else to stamp something else. It’s now a much more technical job so we need to make sure we’re doing a better, making sure we’re doing a better job of training Clerk staff so that they can digitally record minute orders as I talked about. Make sure that our court records are being kept but that is going to require a lot of training. I have had discussions with the city colleges of Chicago and some of our community colleges to having a new program, a certificate in paralegals, a paralegal certificate for Cook County Courtroom management.

LN: Take the staff and put them through there to actually take the people that are there and make them more efficient by investing in their training.

JM: Correct, correct. So they’d have paralegal certificates in Cook County Courtroom management and that would make sure our systems are very uniform and automated so that everybody who interfaces with the court can rest assured that our court system’s going to operate transparently and efficiently. And so we need to do that, our employees deserve it and I think the public deserves the transparency that that would bring.

LN: Well, thanks for being on the show, Jacob. This has been really great.

JM: Well, thank you for having me. Happy to come back on again.

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