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Illinois Courts Response to COVID-19

Details | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

Improvements continue for redesigned Illinois Courts website

4/26/2022

By Chief Justice Anne M. Burke and Chief Information Officer Skip Robertson

Judicial Management Information Services (JMIS) is one of 10 divisions in the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts. JMIS is headed by Chief Information Officer Skip Robertson, who manages a staff of 25 IT professionals. Together, they implement new technologies and services, manage cybersecurity services, respond to specific technology needs, and support Court IT initiatives throughout the judicial branch.

Even before the pandemic, the Illinois Supreme Court took steps to reform and modernize the way that court users interacted with our court system. In 2016, the Illinois Supreme Court mandated the e-filing of civil cases in all 102 circuit courts, the Supreme Court, and the five Districts of the Appellate Court. This transition required JMIS to harmonize several individual e-filing systems with a single, centralized electronic filing manager called eFileIL.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Illinois Supreme Court has called on JMIS to meet the changing technological needs of our court system. JMIS has been instrumental in coordinating the Court’s statewide digital recording initiative, providing digital audio and video recording systems, remote hearing capabilities, and integration with existing courtroom technologies in the Supreme, Appellate, and Circuit Courts. The successful implementation of these massive undertakings could not have been realized were it not for the technological expertise of Skip Robertson and his staff.

Since technology now plays such an important role in conducting court business, I have invited Chief Information Officer Skip Robertson to be my guest columnist for this month’s Illinois Courts Connect. He will provide information about our new website, which has been redesigned to allow all court users to more easily access information they need to interact with our court system. Embedded in the column are hyperlinks you may click on to obtain additional information and materials.

Now, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Chief Information Officer Skip Robertson.

Illinois Supreme Court Website

The Illinois Supreme Court launched its redesigned website on June 1, 2021, with new features, including a mobile-friendly and responsive design, and additional content representing the entire judicial branch. Since its launch, the website has continued to be enhanced, adding new information and updates.

The website highlights four portals compiling specific information that targets the Public, Judges, Lawyers, and the Media. The most popular portals on the website continue to be: Supreme Court Opinions, Supreme Court Rules, Opinions and Rule 23 Orders from the Appellate Court Districts, the Public portal page, and the Forms Hub, which provides access to Supreme Court Rule Forms, Standardized Court Forms, and Administrative Forms.

Since the new site launched, there have been almost 1.3 million visitors to the website. The website averages approximately 130,000 visitors per month, with March 2022 reaching a high of 167,360 visitors. Although these visitors are primarily from the United States, the top five foreign visitor countries are India, Canada, United Kingdom, Mexico, and the Philippines.

Taking advantage of our website’s new mobile-friendly design, approximately 46% of visitors access the site from a mobile device or tablet, while approximately 53% of visitors access our website by computer. Apple devices – such as iPhones or iPads—are used by 68% of our mobile visitors, and Samsung devices represent approximately seven to ten percent of mobile devices used.

A new feature — one that is regularly among the top five pages accessed on the website – is the Find Your Court interactive map. Find Your Court lists general information about the Supreme Court, Appellate Court, and Circuit Courts, with filters that allow a website visitor to view information regarding a specific court, whether it be a district court, circuit court, or county court. The state map is interactive so that clicking on the map will guide you to court information. The Find Your Court module lists information about each court, such as the court’s address, website URL, and phone number. The Learn More link is a compilation of local resources available in each court, such as parking information, public transportation details, access to copiers, food, a law library, waiting rooms, or a Self-Help Center. The hyperlinks will direct a person to the local court website to learn additional information about such topics as the court’s disability contact information, jury duty information, a link to the circuit clerk’s website, the court’s holiday schedule, and much more.

The Find Your Court interactive map is a collaborative effort between court administrators and court officials to compile information from each court, allowing the public to easily navigate to important court information throughout the state. Plans are underway to expand the interactive map to include links to additional information, such as local court rules, mobile device policy, locker availability, probation information, a court directory, and other useful information.

Given the challenges of the past 2 years, the Court’s website has been a central repository for important pandemic and remote hearing information. Here are just a few of the pages dedicated to Covid-related topics:

COVID-19 Updates | Office of the Illinois Courts

Remote Hearings Information | Office of the Illinois Courts

Eviction Early Resolution Program Resources (illinoiscourts.gov)

Supreme Court Orders and Announcements | Office of the Illinois Courts

Illinois Supreme Court Press Releases (illinoiscourts.gov)

Recent changes to the website include: Adding a search function; grouping vacancies on the Employment Opportunities page; formatting the Illinois Rules of Evidence into a digitally signed PDF; formatting Civil and Criminal Jury Instructions into a table, and making available a rich-text version of the Jury Instructions to allow copy/paste.

The Office of Statewide Pretrial Services page has been added to the website and the Supreme Court Docket & Briefs View Archive page was created to more easily find documents from past Court Terms. Additional enhancements and expanded content are being planned for the Supreme Court website later in 2022.

The launch of the Supreme Court’s new website was guided by the Illinois Judicial Conference’s Website Task Force. The Website Task Force is chaired by Lake County Circuit Court Judge Daniel B. Shanes, and members of the Task Force include judges, attorneys, court officials, and key court partners, who continue to steer the direction of the website and work with the AOIC’s JMIS division to keep the site modern and updated.

One final note – a ‘Feedback’ link is located at the top right corner of each page on the website. This link gives website visitors the ability to submit ideas and suggestions on ways the website might be improved. I encourage you to use this feature if you encounter any difficulties using the site or if you have a suggestion for a new feature that would be helpful to you and other website visitors. Your feedback is always welcome!