The Illinois Supreme Court and Chief Justice Rita B. Garman announced on Friday that filing documents electronically, or e-filing, will be mandatory in all civil cases in the near future.
E-filing will be required in the Supreme Court and the five districts of the Appellate court on July 1, 2017, and will become mandatory in all circuit courts beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
Madison County Chief Judge David Hylla serves as Chair of the Supreme Court e-Business Policy Advisory Board and says he is pleased with the Supreme Court’s efforts to implement the mandatory e-filing system.
“I applaud the Court’s huge step toward a paperless system,” Hylla stated in a press release. “The public and taxpayers we were elected to serve will greatly benefit. There will be some resistance, transitional work, costs, and bumps in the road. But when all is said and done, we will have a more efficient, cost effective, and user-friendly court system. The court system should not try to hold back the tie of technology, but rather embrace it.”
Mandatory e-filing is the latest step in the court’s effort to utilize technology to make the court system more efficient.
“When I was sworn in as Chief Justice in October 2013, one of the several goals that I announced was the increased use of technology in our courthouses and courtrooms, both to make the judicial system more efficient and to make the work of the courts more transparent. At the time, the e-filing pilot project had been completed. I am pleased that we have now reached the point where the technology is available to implement e-filing statewide at all levels of our judicial system,” Garman stated.
Garman said that while full implementation of the e-filing system will not be achieved during her term as Chief Justice, she plans on being involved as the court addresses challenges or concerns during the transition.
E-filing began as a pilot program after it was approved by the Illinois Supreme Court on Sept. 19, 2002, for select civil cases in five circuit courts. Both Madison and St. Clair Counties were included in the pilot program, which began on Jan. 1, 2003. The remaining counties included Cook, DuPage and Will Counties.
Attorneys and self-represented litigants will not be allowed to file paper documents, except for documents exempted by rules adopted by the court or in the event of an emergency.
E-filing may be done at any hour and from any location.
All courts will be required to provide a designated space, necessary equipment and technical support during regular work hours for self-represented litigants who do not have access to computers.
So far, 15 of the state’s 102 counties have sought and been granted approval for e-filing systems.
The e-filing system has been limited statewide for a number of reasons, including variances in funding and technology resources. Another reason could be that the state operates on at least a dozen different case management software systems.
To address the issue, the Supreme Court will require e-filing to occur through a single Electronic Filing Manager (EFM), which will be integrated with each court’s case management system and the attorney-selected e-filing service provider.
The Supreme Court also created the e-Business Policy Advisory Board and the e-Business Technical Committee in 2014 after the Technology Committee of the Conference of Chief Judges reviewed the matter.