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Cook County Court Clerk Requests Delay of E-Filing

by Michael Reynolds

The Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Dorothy Brown, has issued a request to the Illinois Supreme Court that she be permitted to delay for one year the requirement that most documents being filed in civil cases in the Circuit Court be filed electronically.  As recently as November of 2017, Dorothy Brown had indicated that her office was ready to implement electronic filing for the massive Circuit Court system.  However, in December, 2017, Brown sent a letter to the Supreme Court asking for a reprieve from the statewide requirement that most all new civil cases be filed electronically.

Brown’s letter to the Supreme Court, which was jointly signed by the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Tim Evans, indicated that the county’s new vendor, Tyler Technologies, a Texas-based software provider, would not be able to meet the January 1, 2018 deadline.  As reported by Steve Schmadeke in the Chicago Tribune, Judge Evans wrote in his own memo to the judges of the Circuit Court that “I have taken this action only out of concern that the process is not ready to move forward.”  Judge Evans further noted that he hoped the switch to e-filing would happen before 2019.

Almost two years ago, the Illinois Supreme Court had ordered the courts in all 102 counties in the state to make the shift to electronic filing by January 1, 2018.  At that time, there were fifteen counties, including Cook and DuPage, which had already begun implementing an electronic filing system to some extent.  Nonetheless, as the 2018 year begins, the Circuit Court of Cook County is not ready to fully implement such a system for all civil cases.

Jalyne Strong, the spokeswoman for Dorothy Brown, has written to the Tribune that the “Clerk’s Office considered using manual work-arounds to initially cover the functionality gaps, however, it was decided that it would be best to request the extension so everything would be ready and in place for users at one time. It is important to provide a complete, effective eFiling system for the Cook County Circuit Court that functions at a level of excellence.”

As of now, the Circuit Court of DuPage County has also requested that it be permitted to delay implementation of the Supreme Court mandated requirement for e-filing, but it has requested a delay until 2021.  If Cook County is granted an extension, the court clerk’s office would accept both paper and electronic filings.until 2019, when the e-filing requirement would be fully in place.