Did Your Illinois Case Filing Get Rejected? You May Not Be Using the Updated Designations.

Justice and law concept illustrationThe Illinois Supreme Court kicked off 2022 with new and amended Supreme Court Rules aimed at bringing more consistency and efficiency to the courts. This includes updates to the Court’s Manual on Recordkeeping and, importantly, new and revised case category designations.

For example, probate cases in Illinois will now be entered as PR rather than P, and divorce cases will be classified as a dissolution with children (DC) or no children (DN). Attorneys and administrators who don’t use the correct categories will have their case filings rejected. [Click here for a list of updated categories]

The updates are part of the Illinois Supreme Court’s larger goal of creating uniformity across the state.

“The Manual on Recordkeeping had not been updated for a long time,” Illinois Appellate Court Justice Ann B. Jorgensen told the Illinois Bar Journal in November. Jorgensen chairs the Illinois Judicial Conference’s Court Data and Performance Measures Taskforce, which has led efforts to streamline statewide data collection.

“There also had been significant migration away from the manual across Illinois counties and circuits, so we began in areas where consistency and data were very much needed,” Jorgensen said.

Improving order in the courts

In September 2021, the Illinois Supreme Court announced amendments to Supreme Court Rules 281, 552, and 589 and the adoption of new Rule 8, which defines case and document confidentiality and is intended to ensure that access to secured information in the court file is the same at all levels of courts.

Changes include:

  • Amended Rules 552 and 589: state that citations and offenses from the same occurrence will be included in a single case number for easier administration, tracking, and scheduling.
  • Amended Rule 281: removes tax collection cases up to $10,000 from being filed as a small claims case and states that all actions involving tax matters will now be filed as Tax Cases.
  • New Rule 8: states that “all cases and documents are presumed to be accessible by the court and the clerk” and gives clerks the power to limit access to case information and documents. The Rule also defines access to case information and documents maintained by the clerk as being one of “Public,” “Impounded,” “Confidential,” “Sealed,” or “Expunged.”

Jorgensen told the Bar Journal that these categories have existed for a while, but have never been defined for Illinois courts.

“You’d get a document in one county that’s impounded, but in another county, the same kind of document would be sealed, and in a third county it’d be confidential,” she said. “This matters because such labels affect who has access to these documents. Rule 8 affirms the court and clerk have access to all court files, as may be appropriate. The limitation of access applies to any other user, such as attorneys, parties, and the public.”

What’s next?

Up next is the establishment of reasonable time standards for trials. Jorgensen told the Bar Journal that the task force submitted proposals to the Illinois Supreme Court in early October.

“We knew that the second charge of the task force was going to be to recommend reasonable time standards for all trial courts, and we made amendments not only to create uniform, consistent, and accurate data, but also to assist us in drafting and recommending reasonable time standards,” she said.

For more information, review the revised Manual On Recordkeeping from the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.

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