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Illinois Courts response to COVID-19

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Court Navigator Network

3/30/2021


Court Navigator Network

March 30, 2021

I am Natisha McAdams, a current Illinois JusticeCorps (ILJC) fellow at the Markham Courthouse in Cook County and member of the Court Navigator Network. ILJC is an AmeriCorps program where I help litigants appearing in court without lawyers. In addition to collaborating with the 14 other ILJC fellows in 10 other counties, being in the Court Navigator Network allows me to share ideas and learn from clerks, trial court administrators, and other court staff across all judicial circuits. As a fellow I’ve gained experience that has helped get into and succeed in law school at DePaul University, which I started last year. 

An example of a project I’ve worked on in Markham is a sample toolkit for orders of protection. I go through the paperwork and fill them out so that a court patron can see how to complete the form. This has been so helpful for them, putting a smile on their faces to know there is extra help available to them. This also helps when no one is available to help them at the moment. Many parts of the court process can be confusing, so these explanations and samples can help a lot.

This experience is awesome for me because I want to practice family law and help people with orders of protection. I have been instrumental in helping patrons in Markham understand the order of protection paperwork and successfully access the courts.

Sample resource (abbreviated):

Step 1: Go to court to file the petition.
You can file your petition in the county where either you or the abuser lives, or where one of the offenses (acts) alleged in your petition took place. In Markham courthouse you can either print or get the forms from the courthouse for free. Filing the paperwork is free so no worries there.

Step 2: The forms.
The petition that you file for an order of protection is called a Petition for Order of Protection.  Carefully fill out the petition. You will be the “Petitioner” and the abuser will be the “Respondent.” Describe in detail how the abuser (respondent) injured or threatened you. Explain when and where the abuse or threats occurred. In Markham the ILJC fellows have created a sample copy for you to use.

Step 3: A judge will review your petition.
After you finish filling out your petition, bring it to the court clerk. The clerk will take it to a judge for an emergency hearing. You will be given another court date to come back for another hearing after the respondent has been served.

Step 4: Service of process
The sheriff’s office will handle serving the summons, petition, and emergency order of protection on the abuser.

Step 5: The hearing
It is very important that you attend all of the court dates. If you do not attend, the judge may dismiss your case and any emergency orders of protection will stop being effective. At the hearing, you and the abuser will be able to tell the judge your version of events. The judge will decide if you should continue to have an order of protection.