As anyone who finds themselves on the legal playground of Cook County, Illinois, knows, The Daley Center is a thrill ride like no other. Beyond the weathered Van Der Rohe facade lies a dated and crumbling interior that time forgot, what I like to think of as Cook County's version of Jurassic Park. It's a place where lawyers still use carbon paper to draft their orders.
Carbon paper (originally carbonic paper) was originally paper coated on one side with a layer of a loosely bound dry ink or pigmented coating, bound with wax, used for making one or more copies simultaneously with the creation of an original document when using a typewriter or a ballpoint pen.
To the casual observer, The Daley Center appears to be some run-of-the-mill State courthouse. But for those of us who routinely pass through its glass curtain wall lobby, the Daley Center is much more than a sprawling plaza that's home to the charming Christkindlmarket during the holidays or the colorful farmers markets and other happy goings-on during the spring, summer and fall. Yes, it is so much more.
The elevators, reminiscent of Disney World's Tower of Terror, carry passengers to the dimly lit, outdated courtrooms that are hardly up to code. The extension cords court reporters use to bring power to their state-of-the-art equipment double as jump ropes for courtroom personnel who long to play an electrocution-risking game of double-dutch.
For nonlawyers in the post-9/11 era who are trying to get to work in the aforementioned antiquated courtrooms above the sad, outdated lobby, the Daley Center has become more than just a thrill ride, it is a veritable obstacle court.
Shortly after 911, the “Fast Passes” (id cards) that lawyers and court reporters flashed to gain swift entry into the Tower of Terror were rescinded. Sometime later, the Cook County Sheriff's office eased restrictions and saw fit to return Fast Passes to attorneys—just attorneys—stranding court reporters on the first floor of OBSTACLE COURT.
Before entering the courtrooms above the Tower of Terror’s lobby, court reporters are forced to:
- Play Beat The Clock as they waste precious time in long lines;
- Engage in hand-to-hand combat with crazy line-jumpers;
- Fight to maintain their sanity in the Hall Of Insanity, as they watch unprepared folks seemingly learn to negotiate a metal detector for the first time.
Once safely through the snaking line of visitors, court reporters enter the strength phase of obstacle court where they:
- Strain their bodies hoisting 60-pound bags of equipment onto conveyor belts;
- Subject themselves to daily radiation exposure walking through antiquated metal detectors;
- Risk crippling disk herniation as they remove their equipment from the conveyor belt after scanning.
On behalf of all court reporters who have to work in the Daley Center, I beg you, Sheriff Thomas Dart, HELP US! We're tired of obstacle court. We need our "Fast Passes" back!
Contact Information for Sheriff Thomas Dart: firstname.lastname@example.org
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