Frequently Asked Questions
Who is the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)?
An Administrative Law Judge is a specially trained licensed attorney who conducts administrative hearing. Administrative Law Judge’s have at least 5 years of legal experience and undergo training to ensure that citizens are treated fairly in the administrative proceedings. The Cook County Department of Administrative Hearings currently contracts with Administrative Law Judge’s to conduct hearings in five facilities located throughout Cook County. To ensure independence Administrative Law Judge’s are not employees of Cook County.
What is an Administrative Hearing?
In every case heard before an Administrative Law Judge the County must meet its burden of offering sufficient evidence to establish that a violation occurred. An Administrative Hearing is where the County must present sufficient evidence to support that a violation occurred. The accused citizen is given an opportunity to offer evidence as to why the County did not prove its case. After the County and the citizen have had an opportunity to tell the Administrative Law Judge why they should win, the Administrative Law Judge will make a ruling. The County will never win a case if it does not meet its burden.
The Administrative Law Judge decision is an independent intellectual judgment, based solely upon the applicable law and the evidence contained in the record.
Why did I receive a notice to appear for a hearing? Who reported me?
A code enforcement officer from a County Department is alleging that s/he witnessed a violation and that you are responsible for the violation. You are given notice of this allegation so that you may challenge the charge. You have the right to know who issued the ticket before you are expected to respond to the ticket.
How do I request a hearing?
You have the right to challenge every ticket that is issued against you. In most cases the ticket will have your hearing information on it. Simply refer to the ticket for the date, time and location of your hearing. In a few cases you must or may request a hearing in writing.. Please call at (312) 603-2120 for assistance or visit the Departments tab on our website for more information about the alleging County Department.
How do I prepare for my hearing? May I send someone on my behalf?
The County has the burden of presenting enough evidence to establish that a violation occurred. The burden is by a preponderance (more likely than not). The ticket will tell you what the County will allege at your hearing. To prepare for your hearing consider what the County will allege and bring in any witnesses, documents, photographs or whatever else you have that will assist you in telling the Administrative Law Judge why the County did not meet its burden. Please make copies as any relevant or admissible evidence will be retained by the DOAH. You may represent yourself, hire an attorney to represent you or authorize someone else to represent you during the proceedings.
Who can appear on my behalf at the hearing other than the attorney and what type of documentation is required?
You may send anyone over the age of 18 to appear on your behalf. All that is required is that your representative has your authorization in writing. Your representative will be required to file an appearance form. The appearance will state that you gave that person authorization to represent you. Please instruct your representative that they will be required to fill out an appearance form when they check in.
What do I need to bring to the Hearing?
You are not required to bring anything with you. You will have an opportunity to explain why you think you should win. Therefore, you may want to bring photographs, receipts, documents or witnesses that you believe will assist you in convincing the Law Judge that you should win your case.
Who can I contact to find out the date and time of my hearing?
Please contact the Administrative Hearings general information line at (312) 603-2120. For faster service, please have your ticket number available when you call.
What happens after my Hearing? If I am found liable, how long do I have to pay the fine?
At the end of a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will close the evidence, consider the evidence that was presented and decide whether the County met its burden of establishing by a preponderance that the violation occurred. The ALJ will give both parties a copy of the order. If either party is unhappy with the order they may file an appeal within 35 days at the Circuit Court of Cook County, 50 W Washington, Room 602. If a fine is imposed you will be expected to pay the fine immediately unless you make other arrangements with the Department of Revenue. Please make sure you receive your copy of the order from the ALJ.
Do I have to come to court? I live far away, can’t I have my hearing over the phone?
In certain cases like parking tickets, you have the right to appear in person or you may submit evidence through the mail. In other cases you may only appear in person. If you cannot attend the hearing you may send a representative to argue on your behalf. Please refer to your ticket for more information or contact the Department of Administrative Hearings at (312) 603-2120 for assistance.
Can I change the location of my hearing? Can I change the date of my hearing over the telephone?
The hearing location cannot be changed. If an unexpected emergency arises and you are unable to attend your hearing please contact the Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) at (312) 603-2120 for assistance on rescheduling your Hearing date. All parties must be notified of the change of date, so you should contact the DOAH immediately.
Can I pay for this ticket instead of attending the hearing?
Please refer to your ticket for information as to whether you may avoid coming to court by prepaying your ticket. Pre-payable citations are listed on the back portion of your ticket. If your violation is not listed on the back then you must appear for your hearing on the day and time indicated. Please contact the Department of Administrative Hearings at (312) 603-2120 for assistance or contact the Department of Revenue at (312) 603-6870.
How long do I have to pay for a ticket that is pre-pay eligible?
If the ticket is pre-pay eligible, you may pay the fine indicated instead of attending the hearing within seven (7) days of the date the violation was issued. Please thoroughly read the back of your ticket for further information.
What is the fine amount for a violation written on my citation when it is not a pre-payable offense?
At the conclusion of your hearing, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will tell the parties if the County Department case is dismissed or if you have been found Liable or Not Liable, and if a fine will be assessed against you and what the amount of the fine is. If, during the Hearing, you and the County alleging the violation agree to an alternative amount, the ALJ will determine if that is acceptable and fair to both Parties and will approve that agreed upon fine or penalty amount.
Why did the police office inform me that my violation is pre-payable, when in fact it’s not?
To determine if the violation is pre-payable or not, it is your obligation to thoroughly read any ticket or notice violation issued to you by a police officer, investigator or inspector. The police officer is the code enforcement officer and witness to the violation. Pre-paid options are listed on the back of your ticket. If you are not sure whether you must appear at your hearing please contact the Department of Administrative Hearings at (312) 603-2120 for assistance.
What is a default judgment?
If you do not appear at your Hearing the only evidence that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will consider is what the County Department alleging the violation offers. This usually results in a default judgment against you. We understand that emergencies arise that will cause you to miss your hearing. Therefore, please request that the default judgment be set-aside and you will be given another chance to defend yourself.
I missed my hearing, how do I file a motion to set-aside the default judgment? Can I reschedule with you over the phone? How much does it cost?
You may obtain a motion to set-aside a default judgment on-line. You may submit the motion to set aside a default judgment by filling out the form and mailing, faxing, submitting it in person, or emailing it to the Department of Administrative Hearings. To fax the motion to the Department of Administrative Hearings please fax it to (312) 603-2125. If you wish to email the form please send the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If submitting the motion by mail or in-person, the motion must be filed at the Cook County Department of Administrative Hearings,118 N. Clark Street, Room 1140, Chicago IL., 60602. If you are mailing, faxing or emailing the motion please call (312) 603-2120 the day after the motion has been sent to verify that the Department has received the form. A verification of your submitted motion should be received in the mail after 3-5 business days. There is no fee to file the motion.
Why do I file a motion to set-aside the default?
If you do not appear at your hearing the only evidence that the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will consider is what the County Department offers. This usually results in a default judgment being entered against you. If this happens, you may file a motion to set-aside the default judgment requesting that an Administrative Law Judge allow you to present evidence as to why you did not appear at your hearing. If the Administrative Law Judge grants your motion you will at that point be given a second chance to defend yourself.
I filed a motion to set-aside the default. Can I change the date?
After you filed your motion to set-aside the default judgment, the other party to the action was notified of the specific date, time and location of your new hearing. You will have to notify and ask the other Party for another opportunity to reschedule this Hearing date.
My child is away at school. My spouse is working. My parents are elderly. Can I come in to file a motion to set-aside the default on their behalf?
Yes, you can file a motion on behalf of another person. If you also represent that person at a hearing you will be required to complete an appearance form at the time of the hearing. Please go to our Forms Tab to download and review the Appearance Form.
Why don’t you go by postmark date for a motion to set-aside the default filing deadline?
The motion to set-aside the default filing deadline is set by ordinance. According to the County Code Section 2-922, an Administrative Law Judge may set aside any order entered by default and, if granted, set a new hearing upon a motion filed within 21 days after the issue of the default order.
I missed my motion to set-aside a default judgment hearing. Can I reschedule? Why not?
If you do not attend the hearing on your motion to set-aside a default determination of liability your motion will be stricken with prejudice and your only option will be to appeal the decision at the Circuit Court of Cook County, Daley Center, 50 W. Washington St., in Room 602.
Can the department staff translate/interpret for customers?
Department staff can translate/interpret for customers for general information only. Additionally, if you require foreign language translation at a hearing please inform the Administrative Law Judge. Our Administrative Law Judge’s have interpreters available who can assist you. Hearing impaired customers in need of American Sign Language Assistance can contact our office at (312) 603-2120 with their hearing date information to request an interpreter. If you prefer you may bring an interpreter with you to the hearing.
Do you provide attorneys?
No, we do not provide attorneys. However, there is free legal consultation through Coordinated Advise & Referral Program for Legal Services (CARPLS).
How do I get to my Hearing Facility? Is there parking?
We are located in the Daley Plaza at 118 N. Clark Street. The main cross streets are Clark St. and Dearborn Avenue. The closest freeway exist is the Lake Street ramp off of the I-90 expressway. There is metered parking and parking garages one block west of Clark Street. All other hearings locations have public parking lots.
Why do I have to pay a fee to file an appeal?
The Circuit Court of Cook County determines their filing fee schedule. Please contact them at (312)603–5116 or 5122 for further assistance. http://www.cookcountyclerkofcourt.org/