Chi Hack Night's Open Data Pledge for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Published on Feb 16, 2016 by Derek Eder

Candidates for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court: Jacob Meister (D), Dorothy A. Brown (D), Michelle A. Harris (D) and Diane S. Shapiro (R)
Candidates for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court
Jacob Meister (D), Dorothy A. Brown (D), Michelle A. Harris (D) and Diane S. Shapiro (R)
Photo by Nancy Stone, Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune

With the initial success of our open data pledge for Cook County State’s Attorney, Chi Hack Night is turning our attention to another important county race. We’re inviting every candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court to sign a pledge to, if elected, commit their office to publish open data.

Below is the invitation to all candidates, as well as the text of the Open Data Pledge.

Candidate responses

  • Jacob Meister (D) - Signed on February 22, 2016
  • Dorothy A. Brown (D) - No response
  • Michelle A. Harris (D) - No response
  • Diane S. Shapiro (R) - No response

What does the Clerk of the Circuit Court do?

The Clerk of the Circuit Court is the official keeper of records for the Circuit Court of Cook County, the second largest court system in the United States. The court manages over 2.4 million cases every year. The Clerk’s office is responsible for managing an annual operating budget of $96 million and has a workforce of over 1,800 employees. Dorothy Brown is the current officeholder.

Records maintained by the Clerk are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Although the court implemented an electronic filing system several years ago, their open records policy only covers records in hard copy paper format and all records requests must be filed in person or by fax.

Modernization of the court system remains an ongoing issue. Sometimes critical court papers have gone missing. A modern, transparent open data policy would contribute to the push for a modern court system with better communication, fewer errors, and lower costs.

Invitation to all candidates

To: Dorothy A. Brown, Michelle A. Harris, Jacob Meister
From: Derek Eder, Chi Hack Night
Date: Feb 16, 2016
Subject: Open Data Pledge for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court

Chi Hack Night (http://chihacknight.org/) is a group of thousands of designers, academic researchers, data journalists, activists, policy wonks, web developers and curious citizens who strive to make our city more just, equitable, transparent and delightful to live in through data, design and technology.

We volunteer every week to build tools to support and serve the public good. Open government data makes it possible for us to do this work.

Chi Hack Night is inviting every candidate for Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court to sign a pledge (attached) to, if elected, commit their office to publish open data.

Please sign and return the pledge to Derek Eder at derek@derekeder.com or by phone at (503) 577-0677.

Sincerely,
Derek Eder
Lead Organizer, Chi Hack Night

Open Data Pledge

Here is the open data pledge, with signatures from the candidates collected so far.

Open Data Pledge for Cook County State's Attorney
Download the pledge (PDF)

You can also view the original pledge in Google Docs.

The open data pledge was drafted by Steve Ediger, Steven Vance and Derek Eder, with contributions by Rebecca Williams, Dominic Mauro, Christopher Whitaker, David Morrison and Eric Sherman.


About the author


Derek is an entrepreneur, developer and one of the leaders of the civic technology community in Chicago. He is a co-founder and partner at DataMade — a company that tells stories and builds tools with data — and is the lead organizer for Chi Hack Night.