Illinois Supreme Court’s e-filing exemption now includes attorneys and non-party filers with a disability. The Supreme Court currently requires e-filing through its eFileIL platform for all civil cases in Illinois trial courts.
Previously, Illinois Supreme Court Rule 9(c) allowed “good cause” exemptions from the e-filing mandate for self-represented litigants (SRLs) that fell into certain categories, such as a lack of computer access, a disability or a language barrier. However, the exemption, which aims to reduce the burden on clerk staff and ensure access to the judicial process, didn’t initially account for attorneys or non-party filers with a disability.
The Supreme Court amended the exemption after learning of e-filing challenges from attorneys with disabilities during the November 2018 term. The amended Rule 9 creates a fourth category of automatic e-filing exemption and changes the “good cause” section from four to five qualified exemptions.
The new language reads: “Documents filed by a person with a disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, whose disability prevents e-filing.” The complete text can be found here.
Furthermore, exempt attorneys, SRLs and non-party filers aren’t required to file a Certification for Exemption from E-filing. Illinois’ standardized mandatory use forms have been updated to reflect the change.
During the November term, the Supreme Court also updated its Safe Harbor Policy. The policy provides guidelines for services and resources that court personnel can provide patrons without violating ethical rules or extending legal advice. The amendment more clearly lays out the parameters related to e-filing.
Sections (d)(5) and (d)(6) of the policy outline the e-filing services that can be offered by court personnel including how to find an Electronic Filing Service Provider (EFSP), explaining why a filing was rejected and the process for obtaining an exemption. Read the full text here.
The Illinois legal community offers numerous materials to assist court patrons with e-filing. The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice provides an “E-Filing Guide for Self-Represented Litigants” and instructional videos on steps in the e-filing process. In addition, Illinois Legal Aid Online provides straightforward tips on e-filing basics.
For more e-filing tips, read “12 Ways to Avoid A Rejected E-Filing and Other Illinois E-Filing Tips.”
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