News & Resources

Online court records lacking in Illinois

Sep 10, 2011 Matt Roesly

A career criminal escaped being put behind bars for good due to a state's inability to place its public court records online, the Journal Sentinel reports. The news source reports that Illinois is widely known for having outdated record-keeping practices. One example of this ineptitude occurred in the case of a man named Michael Tolbert, who raped two women - one of whom he murdered - in 1980. Besides the crimes he committed decades ago, Tolbert was also recently in trouble with the law for violating parole, committing aggravated battery and failing to register as a sex offender. However, he managed to slip through the cracks of the Illinois judicial system because of its inability to transfer court records to neighboring states like Wisconsin - where Tolbert was charged with his failure to register. Wisconsin and other states keep their public court records online. However, Kenosha, Illinois, assistant district attorney Richard Ginkowski notes that obtaining accurate records from Illinois is difficult. "(It) is a serious problem getting reliable information out of Illinois," Ginkowski told the news source. The New Philadelphia Times Reporter adds that the city of New Philadelphia, Ohio, recently added court records to its online database as an added convenience for residents, staff and jurors.