Date of this Version
1998 was to be a big year for Courtroom 302 and the Cook County Criminal Courthouse—the biggest and busiest felony courthouse in the nation. Cook County alone would send nearly 16,000 convicted criminals to prison. Courtroom 302 and Judge Daniel Locallo would hear the controversial Bridgeport trial, known as a “heater” case for attracting publicity. The case revolved around three young white men, with supposed mafia ties, charged with the brutal beating of a 13-year-old black boy—the alleged motive being that the black boy was not welcome in the predominately white neighborhood. Due to the violent and racial undertones in the Bridgeport crime, Judge Locallo faced pressure from Chicago’s mayor and other influential figures among the community, such as Jesse Jackson. “Heater” cases are the exception to the norm, however. The bulk of the year’s cases would be disposed of quickly, with little thought or notice. The great majority of defendants who appeared in Courtroom 302 were African- American drug offenders, many already well acquainted with the Cook County Criminal Courthouse. Amidst the daily grind of the courtroom, 1998 also was a reelection year for Judge Locallo.