July 23, 2018
Last July, 2Civility brought you 30 Things to Know About E-Filing Changes in Illinois. It remains a great resource for e-filing tips to get acquainted with e-filing in our courts.
As of July 1, 2018, we find Cook County, the second largest unified court system in the country, joined by Madison, Kendall, and DeKalb counties, beginning their mandatory e-filing of civil cases on the statewide platform, eFileIL. So, it’s time we brought you an update on some helpful e-filing tips, and what is coming soon for court record accessibility in Illinois.
Time Keeps on Ticking
The timeliness of e-filing is governed by the transmission date and time of transfer. See 7 of the Supreme Court of Illinois’s Electronic Filing Procedures and User Manual. Unless a statute, rule, or court order requires that a document be filed by a certain time of day, a document is considered timely if submitted before midnight (CST) on or before the date on which the document is due. A document submitted on a day when the clerk’s office is not open for business will, unless rejected, be file stamped as filed on the next day the clerk’s office is open for business.
The clerk has 24 to 48 business hours to review a filing. If the filing has a deadline sooner than 24 to 48 hours, you should contact the clerk’s office prior to submitting the filing to request an expedited review.
If a document is untimely due to any court-approved electronic filing system technical failure, the filing party may seek appropriate relief from the court, upon good cause shown. If a document is rejected by the clerk and is therefore untimely, the filing party may seek appropriate relief from the court, upon good cause shown. Rule 10(d).
Don’t Get Rejected 1. Check the Case Number. – Double check that the case number is correct, and the proper format is used (i.e. 2 or 4-digit year – case type abbreviation – up to 8-digit case number). Play 2. the Matching Game. – Does your party information, case caption, and case number (if filing on existing case) on your document(s) match the information inputted into the e-Filing System?
Ways to avoid a rejected e-filing (by the clerk of the court) and other best practices for Illinois e-filing include:
3. Include Your Contact Information. – Attorney must include their name, business address, e-mail address, and telephone number. Unrepresented parties must include their mailing address and telephone number. Rule 131(d)(1).
4. Include an Email Address. – Attorneys must, and self-represented party may, include an email address on documents. Rules 11(b), 131(d)(1). This includes filings made in Illinois appellate courts. Rule 312(b). This email address (and up to two optional secondary email addresses) qualifies as acceptable service under Rule 11(c).
Include Your ARDC Number. – Local Rules often require it of attorneys, so why not make a habit of including it too.
Check for Missing Signatures. – A document certified pursuant to Section 1-109 of the Code of Civil Procedure may contain an electronic signature as described in 6(a) of the Electronic Filing Procedures and User Manual. E-filed documents should use either an “/s/” followed by your typed name or an electronic image of the signature.
Check Civil Summons for New Language. – New Rule 101 includes the following language to be added to all civil summons:
"E-filing is now mandatory for documents in civil cases with limited exemptions. To e-file, you must first create an account with an e-filing service provider. Visit efile.illinoiscourts.gov/service-providers.htm to learn more and to select a service provider. If you need additional help or have trouble e-filing, visit www.illinoiscourts.gov/FAQ/gethelp.asp. , or talk with your local circuit clerk's office".
The same goes for:
- Rule 108 Notice to Heirs and Legatees
- Rule 110 Rights of Interested Persons During Independent Administration
- Rule 113 NOTICE OF ENTRY OF DEFAULT AND JUDGMENT OF FORECLOSURE; SPECIAL NOTICE OF SURPLUS FUNDS
- Rule 291 Proceedings Under the Administrative Review Law
- Rule 292 Form of Summons in Proceedings to Review Orders of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission
8. Separate Documents. – Each e-filed document should be a separate PDF file for uploading, e.g. a Motion and a Notice of Motion should each be their own PDF file and uploaded as a “Lead” Document within your “envelope.” Unless you are filing an exhibit that would be attached to another document, most filings should be uploaded as “Lead” documents.
9. Check for Legibility. – Poorly scanned, illegible, or improperly aligned PDF files will be rejected. Make sure your documents are not upside down, blank, or have bled through to the other side of the document. If you are including separator pages, they need to be marked as such.
10. Check the Formatting. – Use 8.5 x 11 page size. Rule 10(a). Use at least 1” margins. Keep the top right 2” x 2” corner of the first page of each e-filed pleading blank for the clerk’s stamp. The size of the type in the body of the text must be no less than 12-point font, and footnotes no less than 10-point font (see #17).
Redact Identifying Information. – Personal identifying information must be redacted in accordance with Rules 15, 138, and 364. (The clerk of the court is not responsible and has no obligation to review, redact, or screen for such information. Rule 9(b).) Be sure to indicate during e-filing that any separate document containing confidential information is being filed under seal and indicate the reason it is confidential information, whether being personal identity information as defined by 138, or confidential information pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 15, statute, rule or order. It is the responsibility of the filer to indicate within the Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP) whether the document is “Confidential” or “Non-Confidential”.
12. Pay the Appropriate Filing Fee. – Pleadings not accompanied by the appropriate filing fee will be rejected by the clerk. Be sure you have selected the correct case type or filing code so the system can calculate the fee. If you are unsure if there is a filing fee, check the local filing fee schedule online or call the local circuit clerk’s office.
UPDATE (7/18/2018): Here are 25 “Special Instructions for e-filing in Cook County” that you don’t want to miss too!
UPDATE (7/19/2018): A small addition (“or talk with your local circuit clerk’s office”) has been made to the required language in #7, effective immediately.
Search Court Filings
Now that we have e-filing statewide in Illinois, next comes an online portal to improve access to court records for the public, attorneys, and judges. The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) has again partnered with Tyler Technologies to create “re:SearchIL” – a web-based portal, accessible on any device, to provide single point access for case information for all Illinois courts.
All courts using eFileIL will make their e-filed case documents and information available to re:SearchIL. Courts will be the first to benefit from the improved access to information available through re:SearchIL, with judges, clerks, and parties to a case able to access case information.
The Illinois Supreme Court anticipates expanding access to re:SearchIL to all non-party attorneys and the public in a phased implementation as remote public access policies are developed. More to come!
Don’t just take our word for it. You may find the free Illinois E-Filing Training Webinars helpful (CLE credit offered as well). Upcoming dates include:
July 26, 2018, 1-2pm
August 23, 2018, 1-2pm
September 20, 2018, 1-2pm
To register for one of the upcoming trainings, you can find more information and other e-filing tips on the Court's e-filing website.
As Professionalism Counsel at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism,
Mark C. Palmer promotes civility and delivers statewide professionalism programming, including its mentoring program, across Illinois to lawyers and law students with a dedication to justice and the rule of law.