By Illinois Supreme Court press release, October 24, 2012
Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and the Illinois Supreme Court announced new statewide standards and new and amended Supreme Court rules that will allow all courts in Illinois to begin electronic filing of court documents in civil cases.
---To date, only five counties in Illinois have been approved to operate e-filing systems as part of a pilot project, mostly on a limited basis. Those counties are Cook, DuPage, Madison, St. Clair and Will. The announcement ends the pilot stage of e-filing in Illinois and allows all circuit court clerks to move to permanent and ongoing procedures, if they so wish.
The new statewide principles and standards, new Supreme Court Rule 138 and amended Supreme Court Rule 201, give the go-ahead to civil case e-filing while placing an emphasis on protecting against identify theft and disclosure of sensitive information. They do this by protecting personal identity information such as Social Security numbers, birth dates, mother's maiden names, driver's license numbers, financial account numbers and debit and credit card numbers. This information will be barred from documents or exhibits filed with the court-whether in a paper or electronic filing. Discovery responses are prohibited from filing as well, absent leave of court.
The new standards and rules will apply only to civil cases. They are the product of the Illinois Supreme Court Special E-Business Committee announced by Chief Justice Kilbride in June 2011, chaired by Chicago lawyer Bruce Pfaff. "Illinois is behind on using e-business and e-filing in its courts. We know that," said Chief Justice Kilbride. "These uniform, statewide standards allow e-filing in our courts; it is no longer part of a wish list. Circuit courts may now use e-filing's greater efficiencies and long-range cost savings in addition to offering a modern way of doing things."
The Supreme Court also announced Wednesday an amendment to Supreme Court Rule 11 to allow service of documents electronically in the trial courts. Attorneys and parties must include an e-mail address for service of documents on appearances and pleadings filed in the court.
The new standards and rules will go into effect January 1, 2013. This will allow Circuit Court clerks, chief judges, judges and attorneys sufficient lead time to make required changes to court operations and automated systems. In the interim, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, under Director Michael J. Tardy, will schedule regional meetings with stakeholders including chief judges, circuit court clerks and court management system vendors to chart the way to best move forward for each individual county. "
This is a great day," said Mr. Pfaff, who runs a law office that is essentially paperless. "Behind the initiative of Chief Justice Kilbride and approval of e-business by the entire Supreme Court, the legal system in Illinois will become more efficient and significantly less expensive to operate. Any county that wishes can adopt e-filing and electronic document management systems and start to take advantage of the power of computers.
To see a complete PDF copy of the press release click here.
For new Rule 138 regarding Personal Identity Information restrictions in documents or exhibits click here.
For new Rule 201 regarding General Discovery Provisions click here.