By Jill E. Roberts, Supervising Senior Program Manager, Access to Justice Division
The Illinois Supreme Court approved amendments to Rule 10-101 regarding Standardized Court Forms. The amendments, effective September 1st, 2021, require courts to stop providing or using local forms for a legal remedy once a standardized court form for that same purpose is published.
The changes stem from the work of the Illinois Judicial Conference (Conference). The Conference is currently operating under a three-year Strategic Agenda (Agenda) that was approved by the Illinois Supreme Court in October of 2019. The Agenda’s first strategic goal is “Accessible Justice & Equal Protection Under the Law,” and the first strategy of this strategic goal is to “[e]stablish and expand services and resources to assist self-represented litigants and non-English speaking court users.”
To serve this goal, the Conference asked the ATJ Commission to examine Illinois Supreme Court Rule 10-101 and propose amendments to increase the use of standardized court forms statewide. The ATJ Commission then submitted its proposed amendments to the Conference for its approval. The Conference gave its unanimous support and submitted the proposal to the Court, and the Court adopted the changes in March of 2021.
These amendments are intended to:
- Increase standardization in court procedures and simplify procedures for self-represented litigants;
- Reduce the confusion, inconsistency, and risk associated with the use of non-standardized forms;
- Reduce the frequency of rejections of standardized form in favor of a local or alternative forms;
- Ensure that legally compliant forms and associated self-help resources are available, promoted, and used by courts; and
- Increase access to self-help resources, including technology-based resources and translated resources.
The forms are helpful to SRLs and court staff assisting court patrons based on feedback we’ve received. SRLs have said “wonderful form, easy to complete,” “very helpful and easy to use,” “thank you for making it easy to prepare and file my divorce papers,” and “everything was well explained and easy to fill out.” We hope the changes to Rule 10-101 will get the standardized court forms out to even more litigants.
One of the new provisions of Rule 10-101 is for court and clerk offices to use promotional materials designed by the ATJ Commission. Here is digital version of a flyer that the ATJ Commission created for this purpose in both English and Spanish. Hard copies of the flyers were also mailed to all courthouses via clerk’s offices in early August. Please post this flyer around your courthouses.
On a separate but related note, on June 1, 2021, the Supreme Court’s new website launched. As a result, the web addresses for the forms landing page, all the forms suites, and the forms themselves changed. The official landing page for the all of the approved forms is now https://www.illinoiscourts.gov/documents-and-forms/approved-forms/. We recommend updating any links you have listed on your clerk or court websites to the new web address.
In addition to the flyer mentioned above, the ATJ Commission has created other helpful documents in relation to rule 10-101, including a guidance document for courts, an FAQ, and a Benefits of Standardized Court Forms handout. If you are interested in any of these materials, please send Jill Roberts an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When new or updated forms are published to the website, we will notify clerks and court staff of the publication. If you are not already receiving the email notifications about published forms and would like to receive them, please email email@example.com to be added to the notice list.