Cook County court dips toe into e-filing
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin
by Stephanie Potter
A pilot program allowing electronic filing of commercial litigation
cases in Cook County is tentatively set to begin March 30.
Circuit Clerk Dorothy A. Brown is convening
a meeting Thursday with bar association leaders, judges and county officials
to discuss the program and show off a prototype. Brown said she has long
been a proponent of electronic filing.
''I think this is revolutionary
for Cook County,'' Brown said. ''We've been progressive and leading the
way in many things over the years and this is a continuation of that.''
The pilot program is the result of a joint application by Brown and Chief
Judge Timothy C. Evans to the Administrative
Office of the Illinois Courts. Evans said the pilot program is starting
in the Commercial Litigation Section of the Law Division because many attorneys
who practice there already are familiar with e-filing in the federal courts.
He plans to issue a general administrative order outlining the rules
for e-filing. Last year, 5,544 commercial litigation cases were filed,
a small fraction of the total number of civil cases filed in Cook County.
''We expect it will go well in the Commercial Section of the Law Division
and if it does we will be extending it further,'' Evans said.
filing will be optional and the office will maintain paper copies of lawsuits
per AOIC rules, Brown said. But she said she hopes the program will be
expanded, and is working on alternative forms of long-term document storage.
Brown said the purpose of Thursday's meeting is to put together a leadership
committee to help with the rollout of e-filing. The meeting will be held
at 3 p.m. in the pedway conference room at the George W. Dunne Cook County
Office Building, 69 W. Washington St. The office anticipates holding two
additional meetings on e-filing, including one for the general public.
Bridget A. Dancy, chief information officer for Brown's office, said
e-filing will be conducted through the clerk's Web site.
Attorneys and pro se litigants who wish to e-file will have to register
online, and online training also will be offered.
The office also
anticipates that it will offer several weeks of classroom-type training
sessions for attorneys, their clerks and anyone else who wishes to learn
how to use the system. Those sessions likely will begin in March and first
priority will be given to those who practice in the Commercial Litigation
Section, Brown said. Training is not mandatory but is strongly encouraged.
The vendor for the project is On-Line Information Services Inc., which
Dancy said has worked on similar projects with the Alabama courts.
Brown said electronic service of documents also will be available, provided
that the other party has agreed to receive service through that method.
In DuPage County, where a pilot program for e-filing has been in place
since late 2004, almost all civil matters can be filed electronically.
Officials have seen a large increase in the number of documents electronically
filed. Circuit Clerk Chris Kachiroubas said the program ''was very slow
at the beginning,'' with 15 or 20 documents filed each week.
about 500 to 600 cases are electronically filed each week, representing
about half of the total civil filings, Kachiroubas said.
we will be able to expand it to all case types in the not-too-distant future,''
His advice for Cook County? Kachiroubas said the
key to success was reaching out to bar association leaders and teaching
them how to use the system so that they became advocates for it.
after four years, I think people are finally adjusting,'' he said.