The First Bench Trial Awards In Cook County Law Division Since The Start of Covid
CHICAGO, IL, December 02, 2020 /Neptune100/ — On November 11, 2020, Dennis M. Lynch and Neil Schelhammer conducted a bench trial via Zoom before Judge Lorna Propes in the Circuit Court of Cook County. It was one of the first Zoom civil bench trials in Cook County Law Division. A bench trial is a trial, without a jury – the trial judge plays the role of both the judge and the jury, resolving disputes of both law and fact.
The case resulted from a multi-car auto collision. Plaintiffs, two sisters from Ireland, one living here and one visiting, were rear-ended by two other vehicles. The entire trial was conducted virtually through Zoom. Law Division Judge Propes was in her courtroom in the Daley Center hosting the Zoom call. None of the parties, their attorneys, nor Judge Propes were ever present together. All four parties, two plaintiffs and two defendants, gave their testimony through Zoom. Even more noteworthy, was the international flavor of the trial. One of the plaintiffs, the Irish resident represented by H/S testified real time from her home in County Kildare, Ireland. Due to the time difference, (Ireland is six hours ahead of Chicago time), she testified first thing in the morning our time (late afternoon for her), but remained on Zoom into the night in Ireland to be present for the entire trial. Following the trial, the judge returned a very favorable judgment for the two sisters.
For Neil Schelhammer, a recent member of the bar, it was his first trial.
Following the trial, plaintiff’s attorney Dennis Lynch commented, “Josephine and Bernadette have been eager to get their day in Court for a long time. They were heart broken when their jury trial got stricken. To be able to bring their case to a happy close and let them testify from the safety of their homes was the highlight of this very strange year.”
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