As the state court system in Illinois continues to migrate into an electronic filing (e-filing) based platform, the Supreme Court has rolled out Rule updates to improve the definitions, standards, and processes for which these technological changes have had an impact.
Among the updates was a 197-page Order entered on June 22, 2017 with changes to some 70+ Illinois Supreme Court Rules. These changes were effective as of July 1, 2017. See the key highlights below.
You may these FAQs helpful as a starting point.
Key Highlights and Points to Remember
While this non-exhaustive list below is not meant to be a comprehensive review of all the updates from the Order, I have done my best to bring you some key highlights and points to remember to better adjust your practice. Links to the Rules and other resources are included for quicker referencing.
- The definition of “document” has been broadened to include photographs, recordings, or other records of information or data, regardless of being in paper or electronic format. Rule 2(b)(3).
- The definition of “written” or “in writing” includes in electronic format. Rule 2(b)(4).
- The definition of “signed” or “signature” includes in electronic format. Rule 2(b)(5).
- An electronically transmitted document received by the clerk of the court by approved electronic means shall serve as an “original” even though it is in electronic form. Rule 2(b)(6).
- New Rule 9 (previously a reserved Rule number) “Electronic Filing of Documents” outlines the new state court e-filing system. Rule 9.
- Remember, while Supreme Court and Appellate Court e-filing is required now, circuit court e-filing for civil matters is not mandatory until January 1, 2018. Rule 9(e).
- All documents regarding civil matters MUST be e-filed, with some exemptions. Rule 9(a).
- Documents exempt from e-filing are: documents from an incarcerated SRL, wills, juvenile documents filed under the Juvenile Court Ac of 1987, and other documents in a specific case upon “good cause” shown. Good cause exists where a SRL is not able to e-file documents for the following reasons: no computer or internet access in the home and travel represents a hardship; a disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, that prevents e-filing; or a language barrier or low literacy (difficulty reading, writing, or speaking in English). Good cause also exists if the pleading is of a sensitive nature, such as a petition for an order of protection or civil no contact/stalking order. Rule 9(c).
- 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).
- Unless otherwise required, e-filed documents submitted before midnight on a day the clerk’s office is open are considered filed. If the clerk’s office is closed on the day of filing, the documents are considered filed as of the next business day. Rule 9(d).
- If your document is considered untimely filed with the court because of a technical failure or due to the clerk rejecting it, you may seek appropriate relief from the court, upon good cause shown. Rule 9(d).
- Document size and style are important (Rule 10). The maximum file size for a document e-filed in trial court through eFileIL is 25mb., with a maximum envelope size of 50mb. The maximum file size for a document e-filed in a reviewing court through eFileIL to the Supreme Court and Appellate Court Districts is 150mb. Review the eFileIL Electronic Document Standards for what is acceptable. As of publishing this blog post, the Supreme Court and the Fourth Appellate District have “Filing Procedures” posted here.
- 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.
- E-File documents in PDF format.
- Find a good font (that is not Times New Roman). Personally, I prefer using 12-point Book Antigua font (10-point for footnotes) on filed documents. Other recommended fonts include: New Baskerville, Calisto, Century, Century Schoolbook, and Bookman Old Style. See the Seventh Circuit’s “Requirements and Suggestions for Typography in Briefs and Other Papers.”
- Attorneys must include an email address on documents. Rules 11, 131(d)(1). This includes filings made in Illinois appellate courts. Rule 312(b). (See “Ready or Not, Email Service has Arrived.”)
- This email address (and up to two optional secondary email addresses) qualifies as acceptable service under Rule 11(c).
- Your registered user username and password constitute your signature. So, keep it confidential and secure to yourself and your authorized agents.
- E-filed documents should use either an “/s/” followed by your typed name or an electronic image of the signature.
- E-filed documents that are notarized, sworn to, made under oath, or contain the signature of the opposing party must be e-filed as a scanned image containing an image of the necessary original signature(s). However, 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-filing a document with a non-party signature, e.g. a witness’ affidavit? You, as the filing party, must confirm all persons required to sign the document approved it, obtain their original signature, and retain the original document as signed for at least one year after a final judgment by direct review or expiration of time to seek review. Be sure to identify each signatory, i.e. don’t just have a signature on a line without a typed name identifier.
- Need to e-file a confidential document? Confidential, sealed, or impounded documents should be e-filed. The e-filing application provides for information to be identified as “Confidential” at the time of transmission. See 3(a) of the Electronic Filing Procedures and User Manual.
- Proof of service of e-filing is by an automated verification with time of transmission and email addresses of recipients. Rule 12(b)(1).
- Proof of service via email service is by §1-109 certification of date of transmission and each email address. Rule 12(b)(2).
- Service by e-filing automation and email are complete on the day of transmission. Rule 12(c).
- Find your court forms in the Rules Forms Appendices and on the Court’s Forms page. These forms must be accepted for filing and use by all courts. Rule 10-101(c).
- Now that you know what can be e-filed, learn how to e-file at the offered Online Filer Training.
- And lastly, should you wish to propose a new Rule or an amendment, you may now email the Rules Committee rather than only using snail mail to voice your recommendations or concerns. Rule 3(c).
July 26, 2017 – Updated to correct #24 in that the newest e-filing manual has users e-file confidential, sealed, or impounded documents rather than filing them conventionally with the circuit clerk.
December 7, 2017 – Updated #12 to insert the document size limits for trial court and reviewing courts.
December 15, 2017 – Updated #8 regarding the new e-filing exception for SRLs showing “good cause” and #22 to clarify that a certified document may use an electronic signature rather than having to e-file a scanned document.