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  PART 2.00  Judicial Administration


2.01 SELECTION OF CHIEF JUDGE

(a)  Selection and Tenure. In the first week of October in which the term of a presiding chief judge is to expire, the chief judge shall call a meeting of the circuit judges. At that meeting, the circuit judges shall by confidential ballot select a chief judge to take office January 1 of the following year and serve as chief judge for two (2) calendar years, through December 31 of the second year.

 (b) Term Limit. A circuit judge may not serve more than 2 full consecutive terms as chief, unless the circuit judges vote to suspend the term limitation rule pursuant to Local Rule 2.015.

(c)  Election Procedure. The ballot shall contain the names of all the circuit judges eligible to serve, arranged alphabetically. The votes shall be tallied by the chief judge, or such other circuit judge who may be selected to make such tally, and the tally of the votes shall be announced for each round of balloting. If on any round of balloting a circuit judge receives the votes of a majority of the circuit judges, that judge shall be declared elected.

(d) Removal.  A majority of the circuit judges may, at any time, by written order, call a meeting, at a time and place stated, to consider the removal of the chief judge.  A copy of the order shall be delivered to each judge not joining in it, at least five (5) days before the time fixed for the meeting.  At the meeting the circuit judges shall vote by ballot on the question, “Shall the present chief judge be removed from office?”  Upon a vote of two-thirds of the circuit judges of this circuit in the affirmative, the chief judge is thereby removed from office, and the circuit judges shall thereupon proceed to elect one of their number, pursuant to these rules, to serve as the new chief judge, to take office at once and serve until the end of the term of the chief judge removed.

(e) Resignation. If the chief judge shall at any time desire to resign, upon notice, he or she shall call a meeting of the circuit judges and present his or her resignation.  If the resignation is accepted, the circuit judges shall thereupon proceed to elect one of their number to serve as the new chief judge, to take office at once and serve for the remainder of the term of the chief judge resigning.

(f) Vacancy.  Should the office of chief judge at any time become vacant, from any cause not otherwise provided for in this rule, the acting chief judge shall call a meeting to elect a new chief judge, to take office at once and serve for the remainder of the term.

(g) Acting Chief Judge.   The chief judge shall appoint an acting chief judge who shall serve at the pleasure of the chief judge.  The acting chief judge shall discharge all the duties of the chief judge during any incapacity or absence from the circuit of the chief judge.

(f) General Administrative Authority.  In the exercise of general administrative authority pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 21(b), the chief judge may enter general orders including, but not restricted to, orders providing for assignment of judges, selection and terms of Presiding Judges, general or specialized divisions, and the time and places for holding court.

Such general orders shall be kept on file with offices of the Circuit Clerks in Boone and Winnebago Counties, the Chief Judge, the Presiding Judge of Boone County, the Trial Court Administrator, the Winnebago and Boone County Bar Associations and the Law Libraries of Boone and Winnebago Counties. The Trial Court Administrator shall maintain the orders as permanent court records, which shall be available for inspection as public documents. Copies of the general orders shall be available from the Trial Court Administrator for a nominal fee.        

(Amended 10/23/2015)

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2.015 SUSPENSION OF THE RULES

Upon vote of two-thirds of the circuit judges of the circuit, the operation of and of these local rules may be suspended if doing so is deemed to be in the best interest of the circuit.  Unless exigent circumstances prevent doing so, a proposal for suspension of the rules should be set forth in writing and circulated to all other circuit judges at least (30) days before the vote on suspending the rules. 

(Revised 9/21/2011)

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2.02 PRESIDING JUDGE

The chief judge may appoint a circuit judge within each county of the circuit as presiding judge of that county. The presiding judge shall sit at the pleasure of the chief judge.

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2.03 JUDICIAL MEETINGS

(a)  Circuit Judges

The circuit judges of the 17th judicial circuit shall meet on an as needed basis on notice at a time and place designated by the chief judge.

(b)  Associate Judges

The associate judges of the 17th judicial circuit shall meet at least once per month on notice at a time and place designated by the presiding judge of the county division.

(c)  Special Meetings

Special meetings may be called at anytime by the chief judge, or by any two circuit judges, upon three (3) days notice in writing to all circuit judges. which notice shall state the business to come before such meeting.

(d)  Combined Meetings

At the discretion and call of the chief judge there may be a meeting of all circuit and associate judges.

(Revised 3/3/1997)

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2.04 APPOINTMENTS

No appointment of a person to office or employment may be made by the chief judge without prior consideration thereof at a meeting of the circuit judges held for such purpose.

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2.05 JURORS

(a)  General Jury List

Once each year, the jury commission shall in accordance with the provisions of 705 ILCS 305/310/315 prepare a jury list to be known as the general jury list to consist of all registered voters and Illinois drivers license holders possessing the necessary legal qualifications for jury duty.

(b)  Active Jury List

An active jury list shall be drawn from the general jury list via computer as provided by 705 ILCS 305/310/315.

(c)  Examination of Electors

The jury commissioners shall examine questionnaires completed by electors as defined by 705 ILCS 305/310/315 having been randomly selected from the active jury list. The jury commissioners shall have the power to summon electors to appear before them and to examine them regarding their qualifications for jury service, and such notice shall be sent by mail. The name of each elector approved by the commissioners for jury duty shall be placed on a qualified jury list.

(d)  Drawing of Venire and Summonses

Upon order of the court, venires shall be randomly drawn from the qualified jury list via computer, as provided by 705 ILCS 310/8 (c).

(e)  Manner of Serving Summonses

The Summoning of jurors, grand and petit, shall be performed in compliance with 705 ILCS 305/310/315.

(f)  Personal Juror Information

Personal information about jurors will be sealed in the court file and only may be provided as described in General Order 9.07.

(g)  Grand Jurors

Pursuant to 705 ILCS 35/4, the circuit judges prescribe that grand jurors be called to serve in Winnebago County on the third and fourth Fridays of January and July of each year,  and in Boone County on the first Thursday of January of each year.

Pursuant to 725 ILCS 5/112-3, Grand Jurors shall be summoned to appear at an appointed time.  After being impaneled, sworn and instructed by the court, the grand jury shall sit at such times as the court may order, and may be recessed from time to time to a day certain or subject to recall, provided no grand jury shall be called to serve after a period of six (6) months following the day called to serve in Winnebago County and one (1) year in Boone County.

(h)  Petit Jurors

1.  Pursuant to 705 ILCS 35/4, unless otherwise ordered by the circuit judges in both Winnebago and/or Boone Counties, not less than thirty-five (35) petit jurors shall be summoned to appear in the specified division of the 17th Judicial Circuit at the respec­tive time, and such other days as may be designated by the chief judge or desig­nate:

a.  Boone County

General and County Divisions - Monday and Wednesday of the first and third full weeks of each month.

b.  Winnebago County

Civil Division - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of the first and second  weeks of each month.

Criminal Division - Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of each designated jury week of the month.

2.  The judges of the 17th Judicial Circuit have by joint action determined that the number of persons to serve as petit jurors each year in counties not having a jury commission in the 17th Judicial Circuit, shall be as follows:

Six-thousand (6,000) in Boone County.  The circuit clerk in said county shall certify the number of jurors so determined to the county board of such county for selection by the board from the jury list at the September meeting of each year.

(i) Excuse

The chief judge or designate shall have charge of excusing summoned jurors from serving and regulating their assignments to the various judges of the 17th Judicial Circuit.

(Amended 1/16/07)

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2.06 COUNTY LAW LIBRARY

a.  Administration

General administration of the county law libraries shall be the responsibility of the chief judge who may delegate that responsibility to another.

b.  Advisory Committee

Pursuant to 55 ILCS 5/5-39001, the bar associations of Boone and Winnebago Counties may establish and maintain advisory committees to recommend publication purchases and general improvements for their respective county law libraries.

c.  County Law Library Hours

The county law libraries shall be open to attorneys and the general public from 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M., Monday through Friday, except legal holidays.

In Winnebago County upon the display of a proper P.S.B. identification card at the Public Safety Building, attorneys may be admitted to the law libraries at times other than the designated public hours. The presiding circuit judge of Boone County may require reasonable identification of persons admitted to the law library in Boone county at times other than the designated public hours.

d.  Access to Materials

To ensure the ready availability of reference materials, all holdings of the Winnebago County Law Library are non-circulating. Books may be taken from the law library only with the express permission of the chief judge or at the direction of any judge for use during proceedings on court.

Boone County Law Library materials may be checked out only with the permission of the chief judge, the presiding circuit judge, or at the direction of any judge for use during proceedings in court.

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2.07 MANDATORY ARBITRATION

A.  Supervising Judge for Arbitration

The chief judge shall appoint in each county of the circuit having a mandatory arbitration program, a judge to act as supervising judge for arbitration, who shall have the powers and responsibilities set forth in these rules and who shall serve at the discretion of the chief judge.

B.  Arbitration Administrator

The chief judge shall designate an arbitration administrator who shall have the authority and responsibilities set forth in these rules. The arbitration administrator shall serve at the discretion of the chief judge under the immediate direction of the court administrator.

C.  Arbitration Center

The chief judge shall designate an arbitration center for arbitration hearings.

D.  Mandatory Arbitration of Certain Cases

The arbitration program of the 17th Judicial Circuit is governed by the Supreme Court Rules for the Conduct of Mandatory Arbitration Proceedings (Supreme Court Rules 86 - 95 incl.). Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 86 (c), these local rules are adopted, effective October 1, 1987, as amended effective September 16, 1994. Since arbitration proceedings are governed by both sets of rules, reference is made in the caption of each local rule to the Supreme Court Rule controlling the subject.

Rule 1.  Actions Subject to Mandatory Arbitration (S. Ct. Rule 86)

a.  Mandatory arbitration proceedings are undertaken and conducted in the counties of Winnebago and Boone, 17th Judicial Circuit, pursuant to approval of the Illinois Supreme Court given on June 3, 1987, and September 16, 1994, respectively.

b.  All civil actions, other than claims under Supreme Court Rule 281, will be subject to mandatory arbitration, if such claims are solely for money on an amount exceeding $10,000, but not exceeding $50,000, exclusive of interest and costs. Such cases shall be assigned to the arbitration calendar of the 17th judicial circuit at the time of initial case filing with the circuit clerk's office.

c.  Reserved

d.  When a case not originally assigned to the arbitration calendar is subsequently so assigned pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 86 (d), the arbitration administrator shall promptly assign an arbitration hearing date for such case. In such cases, the date of the arbitration hearing shall be not less than 60 days nor more than 180 days from the date of assignment to arbitration, as determined by the court considering the status of the case, the period of time necessary to afford the parties adequate preparation time and status of the arbitration calendar.

Rule 2.  Appointment, Qualification and Compensation of Arbitrators (S. Ct. Rule 87)

a.  Attorneys shall be eligible for appointment by filing the appropriate form with the arbitration administrator, certifying that they have engaged in the active practice of law for a minimum of one year and maintain a law office within the 17th judicial circuit. Retired judges shall also be eligible for appointment. Chairpersons must have been engaged in active trial practice for a period of five years or be a retired judge.

b.  The arbitration administrator shall maintain an alphabetical list of approved arbitrators to be called for service on a rotating basis. The list shall designate the arbitrators who are approved to serve as chairpersons and those arbitrators and chairpersons who are available to serve as substitutes. Each panel will consist of one chairperson and two panel members. Eligible arbitration panel members shall have attended the arbitration seminar prior to active service on an arbitration panel. The eligibility of each attorney to serve as arbitrators may, from time to time, be reviewed by the arbitration administrator or supervising judge. Where possible, the arbitration administration shall notify such arbitrators of the date at least 60 days prior to the assigned hearing date.

c.  Reserved

d.  Reserved

e.  Upon completion of each day's arbitration hearings, the arbitration administrator will process the necessary voucher through the Administrative office of the Illinois Courts for payment of arbitrators.

Rule 3.  Scheduling of Hearings (S. Ct. Rule 88)

a.  On or before the first day of each July, the arbitration administrator shall provide the circuit clerk's office with a schedule of available arbitration hearing dates for the next calendar year.

Upon the filing of a civil action subject to these rules, the clerk of the circuit court shall set a return date for the summons not less than 21 days nor more than 40 days after filing, returnable before the supervising judge or arbitration. The summons shall require the plaintiff or the representative of the plaintiff and all defendants or their representatives to appear at the time and place indicated. The complaint and all summonses shall state in upper case letters in the upper right-hand corner "THIS IS AN ARBITRATION CASE."

Upon the return date of the summons and the court finding that all parties have appeared, the court shall assign an arbitration hearing date not less than 180 days from the filing date or the earliest available hearing date thereafter. If one or more defendants have not been served within 90 days from the date of filing, the court may in its discretion dismiss the case as to unserved defendants for lack of diligence.


b.  Any party to a case may request advancement or postponement of a scheduled arbitration hearing date by filing written motion with the office of the circuit clerk requesting such change. Such motion and notice of hearing thereon shall be served upon counsel for all other parties in the same manner as other motions and a copy of the motion and notice of time of hearing thereon the calendar of the supervising judge for arbitration and shall likewise be served upon the arbitration administrator. The motion shall contain a concise statement of the reason for the change of hearing date. The supervising judge may grant such advancement or postponement upon good cause shown.

c.  Consolidated actions shall be heard on the date assigned to the latest case involved.

d.  Counsel shall give immediate notification to the arbitration administrator of any settlement of cases or changes of appearance. Failure to do so may result in the imposition of sanctions.

e.  It is anticipated that the majority of cases to be heard by arbitration panel will require 2 hours or less for presentation and decision. It shall be the responsibility of counsel for the plaintiff to confer with counsel for all other parties to obtain an approximation of the length of time required for presentation of the case and advise the arbitration administrator at least 7 days in advance of the hearing date in the event additional hearing time is anticipated and the length of such additional time.

Rule 4.  Discovery (S. Ct. Rule 89)

a.  All parties shall comply with the provisions of Supreme Court Rule 222. However, unless otherwise ordered by the court, the parties shall file with the court their initial disclosure under Supreme Court Rule 222 within 14 days of the first return court appearance date.

Rule 5.  Conduct of the Hearings (S. Ct. Rule 90)

a.  The supervising judge for arbitration shall have full supervisory powers over questions arising in any arbitration proceeding, including the application of these rules.

b.  A stenographic record or a recording of the hearing shall not be made unless a party does so at one's own expense. If a party has a stenographic record or a recording made, a copy shall be furnished to any other party requesting same upon payment of a proportionate share of the total cost of making the record or recording.

c.  The statements of witnesses shall set forth the name, address and telephone number of the witness.

d.  Witness fees and costs shall be in the same amount and shall be paid by the same party or parties, as provided for in trials in the Circuit Court of Winnebago County.

e. Any party requiring the services of a language interpreter or other assistance for the deaf or hearing impaired during the hearing shall notify the Arbitration Administrator of said need not less than thirty days prior to the hearing.

f. Only the Notice of Intent pursuant to S. Ct. Rule 90 (c) shall be filed with the Circuit Clerk’s Office; do not file the supporting attachments or exhibits that are going to be offered into evidence at the hearing.

g. All exhibits admitted into evidence shall be retained by the panel until the entry of the award. It is the duty of the attorneys or parties to retrieve such exhibits from the Arbitration Administrator within seven (7) days of the hearing.  All exhibits not retrieved shall be destroyed.  The Arbitration Center is not responsible for documents left behind by the parties and litigants are encouraged not to leave behind any original document. 

Amended 10/6/2015

Rule 6.       Default of a Party (S. Ct. Rule 91)

a.  (a) A party who fails to appear and participate in the hearing, upon motion to the court by the party present, shall be found to be in default. Costs that may be assessed under Supreme Court Rule 91 upon vacation of a default include, but are not limited to, payment of costs, attorney fees, witness fees, stenographic fees and any other out-of-pocket expenses incurred by any party or witness.

b.  Reserved

Rule 7.  Award and Judgment on Award (S. Ct. Rule 92)

a.  Reserved

b.  The panel shall make an award the same day the hearing is terminated. The chairman shall immediately file the award with the clerk of the court, who shall serve notice of the award on all parties.

c.  Reserved

d.  Reserved

Rule 8.  Rejection of Award (S. Ct. Rule 93)

a.  Reserved

Rule 9.   Form of Oath, Award and Notice of Entry of Award (S. Ct. Rule 94)

a.  The arbitration administrator shall provide the forms called for by these rules.

Rule 10.   Form of Notice of Rejection of Award (S. Ct. Rule 95)

(Revised 10/7/2015)

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2.08 COURT-ANNEXED MEDIATION

In an effort to provide the citizens of the 17th Judicial Circuit with an expeditious and expense saving alternative to traditional litigation in the resolution of controversies, there is hereby established a pilot program of Court-Annexed Mediation of civil cases to operate in this judicial circuit.

Mediation under this order and pursuant to the following rules involves a confidential process by which a neutral mediator, selected by the parties or appointed by the court, assists the litigants in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement. The role of the mediator is to assist in identifying the issues, reducing misunderstanding, clarifying priorities, exploring areas of compromise, and finding points of agreement as well as legitimate points of disagreement. Any agreement reached by the parties is to be based on the autonomous decisions of the parties and not the decisions of the mediator. It is anticipated that an agreement may not resolve all of the disputed issues, but the process can reduce points of contention. Parties and their representatives are required to mediate in good faith but are not compelled to reach an agreement.

I.  ACTIONS ELIGIBLE FOR COURT-ANNEXED MEDIATION

A.  Referral by Judge or by Stipulation

Except as hereinafter provided, the judge to whom a matter is assigned may order any contested civil matter asserting a claim having a value, irrespective of defenses or set-offs, in excess of $50,000, or a contested civil matter filed as a chancery, miscellaneous remedy or probate case referred to mediation. In addition, the parties to any such matter may file a written stipulation to mediate any issue between them at any time. Such stipulation shall be incorporated into the Order of Referral.

B.  Exclusions from Mediation

Except as otherwise set forth in (I) (A) above, matters as may be specified by administrative order of the chief judge of the circuit shall not be referred to mediation except upon petition of all parties.

II.  SCHEDULING OF MEDIATION

A.  Conference Date

Unless otherwise ordered by the court, the first mediation conference shall be held within sixty (60) days of the Order of Referral.

At least seven (7) days before the conference, each side shall present to the mediator a brief, written summary of the case containing a list of issues as to each party. If the attorney filing the summary wishes its contents to remain confidential, she/he should advise the mediator in writing at the same time the summary is filed. The summary shall include the facts of the occurrence, opinions on liability, all damages and injury information, and any offers or demands regarding settlement. Names of all participants in the mediation shall be disclosed to the mediator in the summary prior to the session.

B.  Notice of Date, Time and Place

Within 14 days after the Order of Referral, the parties shall select a mediator and schedule the mediation conference.

Winnebago County mediations will be held at the ADR Center (arbitration center), Stewart Square, Suite #25, 308 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101, unless the parties agree to an alternate location.

Boone County mediations will be held at the Boone County Courthouse, 601 North Main Street, Belvidere, Illinois 61008, unless the parties agree on an alternate location.

C.  Motion to Dispense with Mediation

A party may move, within 14 days after the Order of Referral, to dispense with mediation if:

  1. The issue to be considered has been previously mediated between the same parties pursuant to Local Rules of the 17th Judicial Circuit;
  2. The issue presents a question of law only;
  3. The order violates Sec. I (B) of this local rule or
  4. Other good cause is shown.

D.  Motion to Defer Mediation

Within 14 days of the Order of Referral, any party may file a motion with the court to defer the proceeding. The movant shall set the motion to defer for hearing prior to the scheduled date for mediation. Notice of the hearing shall be provided to all interested parties, including any mediator who has been appointed. The motion shall set forth, in detail, the facts and circumstances supporting the motion. Mediation shall be tolled until disposition of the motion.

III.  MEDIATION RULES AND PROCEDURES

A.  Appointment of the Mediator

  1. Within 14 days of the Order of Referral, the parties shall select:
    1. A certified mediator; or
    2. A mediator who does not meet the certification requirements of these rules but who, in the opinion of the parties and upon review by and approval of the presiding judge, is otherwise qualified by training or experience to mediate all or some of the issues in the particular case.
  2. If the parties cannot agree upon a mediator within 14 days of the Order of Referral, the plaintiff's attorney (or another attorney agreed upon by all attorneys) shall so notify the court within 7 days of the expiration of the period to agree on a mediator, and the court shall appoint a certified mediator selected by rotation or by such other procedures as may be adopted by administrative order of the chief judge in the circuit in which the action is pending.
  3. Unless fully disclosed and waived by the parties, a mediator must not have an interest in the outcome of the litigation, must not be retained or employed by any of the parties or attorneys involved in the litigation, or be related to any of the parties or attorneys in the litigation.

B.  Compensation of the Mediator

The mediator shall be compensated by the parties at the rate to be agreed upon in writing. Each party shall pay a proportionate share of the total charges of the mediator.


C.  Disqualification of a Mediator

Any party may move to enter an order disqualifying a mediator for good cause. If the court rules that the mediator is disqualified from hearing a case, an order shall be entered setting forth the name of a qualified replacement. Nothing in this provision shall preclude mediators from disqualifying themselves or refusing any assignment. The time for mediation shall be tolled during any periods in which a motion to disqualify is pending.

D.  Interim or Emergency Relief

A party may apply to the court for interim or emergency relief at any time. Mediation shall continue while such a motion is pending absent a contrary order of the court or a decision of the mediator to adjourn pending disposition of the motion.

E.  Sanctions for Failure to Appear

If a party fails to appear at a duly noticed mediation conference without good cause, the court upon motion may impose sanctions, including an award of mediator and attorney fees and other costs, against the party failing to appear. If a party to mediation is a public entity that party shall be deemed to appear at a mediation conference by the physical presence of a representative with full authority to negotiate on behalf of the entity and to recommend settlement of the appropriate decision-making body or the entity. Otherwise, unless stipulated by the parties, or by order of the court, a party is deemed to appear at a mediation conference if the following persons are physically present:

  1. The party or its representative having full authority to settle without further consultation; and
  2. The party's counsel of record, if any; and
  3. A representative of the insurance carrier for any insured party who is not such carrier's outside counsel and who has full authority to negotiate and recommend settlements to the limits of the policy or the most recent demand, whichever is lower without further consultation.

F.  Adjournments

The mediator may adjourn the mediation conference at any time and may set times for reconvening the adjourned conference notwithstanding Sec. (I) of this local rule. No further notification is required for parties present at the adjourned conference.

G.  Counsel

The mediator shall at all times be in control of the mediation and the procedures to be followed in the mediation. Counsel shall be permitted to communicate privately with their clients.

H.  Communication with Parties

The mediator may meet and consult privately with either party and his/her representative during the mediation session.

I.  Completion of Mediation

Mediation shall be completed within sixty (60) days of the order referring the case to mediation unless extended by order of the court or by stipulation of the parties.

J.  No Agreement

If the parties do not reach an agreement as to any matter as a result of mediation, the mediator shall report the lack of an agreement to the court without comment or recommendation.

K.  Agreement

If an agreement is reached, it shall be reduced to writing and signed by the parties and their counsel, if any, at the conclusion of the mediation. Counsel, or if no counsel the parties, shall be responsible for notifying the court than an agreement was reached and be responsible for terminating the case.

L.  Imposition of Sanctions

In the event of any breach or failure to perform under the agreement, the court upon motion may impose sanctions, including costs, attorney fees, or other appropriate remedies including entry of judgment on the agreement.

M.  Discovery

Discovery may continue throughout mediation.

N.  Confidentiality of Communications

All oral or written communications in a mediation conference, other than executed settlement agreements, shall be exempt from discovery and shall be confidential and inadmissible as evidence in the underlying cause of action unless all parties agree otherwise. Evidence with respect to alleged settlement agreements shall be admissible in proceedings to enforce the settlement. Subject to the foregoing, unless authorized by the parties, the mediator may not disclose any information obtained during the mediation process.

O.  Forms

The following forms shall be used in conjunction with court-annexed mediation and shall be in substantially the same form as those attached as Appendices DD, EE, FF and GG of these Rules:

    1. Order of Referral to Court-Annexed Mediation (Appendix DD)
    2. Confidentiality Agreement and Nonrepresentation Acknowledgment (Appendix EE)
    3. Mediation Held/No Agreement Resulted (Appendix FF)
    4. Memorandum of Agreement (Appendix GG)

P.  Reports to the Supreme Court

The trial court administrator or his or her designee shall provide for the maintenance of records of mediations conducted pursuant to these rules including the number of mediations conducted, the number of mediations resulting in full or partial agreements and those resulting in no agreement. Such information shall be furnished to the Supreme Court through its administrative office quarterly or at such other interval as may be directed, but in no event less than once a year.

IV.  MEDIATOR QUALIFICATIONS

A.  General Requirements

The chief judge shall maintain a list of mediators who have been certified by the circuit court and who have registered for appointment.

Effective January 1, 2004, for certification in major civil cases, an applicant must:

  1. Complete a minimum of 30 hours mediation training, in a program approved by the circuit court, during the one (1) year period prior to application or re-application for certification as a mediator under these rules.
  2. Observe two circuit court mediations conducted by two different certified circuit court mediators within a one (1) year period prior to application or re-application for certification as a mediator under these rules.
  3. Be a retired judge or be a member in good standing of the Illinois Bar, with at least seven (7) years of practice in Illinois unless otherwise prescribed by the Illinois Supreme Court, and be actively practicing in the State of Illinois for twelve consecutive months immediately preceding application or re-application for certification as a mediator under these rules.
  4. Submit to the office of the chief judge or designee a completed application in a form prescribed by the circuit court, which may include information including educational background, areas of practice, and years of practice, etc. By making an application to become certified under these rules, the applicant shall be deemed to have consented to disclosure of the information submitted in connection with his or her application; as well as the nature of cases mediated, number of cases mediated and number of cases settled, and other pertinent information regarding the applicant's qualifications to attorneys or parties involved in litigation to be mediated as well as any other persons to whom disclosure is deemed appropriate by the circuit court.

Mediators certified by the circuit court prior to January 1, 2004, shall be considered certified under these rules.

B.  Continuing Responsibilities as a Certified Mediator

In each case, the mediator shall comply with this local rule regarding mediation and such other general standards as may, from time to time, be established and promulgated in writing by the chief judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit.

C.  Decertification of Mediators

The chief judge of the circuit court may decertify a mediator previously certified under these rules for any of the following reasons:

  1. Revocation or suspension of mediator's license to practice law in the State of Illinois;
  2. Failure or refusal of the mediator to comply with this local rule governing mediation or any general standards issued by the circuit court regarding mediation;
  3. Other unprofessional conduct by the mediator that interferes with the ability of the circuit court to provide appropriate mediation services; or
  4. The request of the mediator to be decertified.

   (Revised 2/19/2015)
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2.09 COURT-ANNEXED SMALL CLAIMS MEDIATION

In an effort to provide the citizens of the 17th Judicial Circuit with an expeditious and expense saving alternative to traditional litigation in the resolution of controversies, there is hereby established a pilot program of Court-Annexed Small Claims Mediation for pro se litigants.

I.  INTRODUCTION

Mediation under this order and pursuant to the following rules involves a confidential process by which a neutral mediator, selected by the parties or appointed by the Court, assists in identifying the issues, reducing misunderstanding, clarifying priorities, exploring areas of compromise, and finding points of agreement as well as legitimate points of disagreement.  Any agreement reached by the parties is to be based on the autonomous decisions of the parties and not the decisions of the mediator.  It is anticipated that an agreement may not resolve all of the disputed issues, but the process can reduce points of contention.  Parties and their representatives are expected to mediate in good faith but are not compelled to reach an agreement.

II.  ACTIONS ELIGIBLE FOR SMALL CLAIMS MEDIATION

All pro se small claims and cases may be referred to mediation by agreement of the parties.

If there is an order of protection between the parties then mediation shall not take place until further inquiry of the Court.

II.  SCHEDULING OF MEDIATION

All pro se small claims litigants shall be given the opportunity to participate in mediation at the first return date.  Mediation may occur at any time during the small claims process, however, if the parties agree to participate in mediation at the first appearance and the case is settled at that time, the respondent’s appearance fee will be waived.

IV.  MEDIATION RULES AND PROCEDURES

Appointment of the Mediator

At the initial appearance date the Court will designate the mediator who will handle the case from the assigned mediators available that day.  If the case is not reduced to judgment that day, the case shall be set on the small claims’ trial call.

A.  The mediator must have completed an approved mediator training program.

Unless fully disclosed and waived by the parties, a mediator must not have an interest in the outcome of the litigation, must not be retained or employed by any of the parties or attorneys involved in the litigation, or be related to any of the parties or attorneys in the litigation.

B.  Compensation of the Mediator

The small claims mediators are volunteers and shall not be compensated.

C.  Disqualification of a Mediator

Any party may move to enter an order disqualifying a mediator for good cause.  If the Court rules that the mediator is disqualified from hearing a case, an order shall be entered setting forth the name of a qualified replacement.  Nothing in this provision shall preclude mediators from disqualifying themselves or refusing any assignment.

D.  Counsel

The mediator shall at all times be in control of the mediation and the procedures to be followed in the mediation.  Counsel shall be permitted to communicate privately with their clients.

E.  Communication with Parties

The mediator may meet and consult privately with either party and his/her representative during the mediation session.

F.  Completion of Mediation

Mediation shall be completed within the court session that the mediator is appointed.

G.  Absence of Parties and Subsequent Termination of Mediation

If both parties agree to mediation and then either one fails to appear at the mediation, the case will be sent back to the presiding judge for disposition as if mediation had never been scheduled.

The mediator shall prepare a report of the termination of the mediation and file it instanter with the presiding judge.

H.  No Agreement

If the parties do not reach an agreement as to any matter as a result of mediation, the mediator and the parties shall report the lack of an agreement to the Court without comment or recommendation.  The case will then be set for trial.

I.  Agreement

If an agreement is reached, it shall be reduced to writing and signed by the parties at the conclusion of the mediation.  The mediator and the parties must notify the Court that an agreement was reached, submit the agreed order, and if approved, the Court shall enter a judgment order on that agreement.

J.  Imposition of Sanctions

In the event of any breach or failure to perform under the court order, the Court upon motion may impose sanctions, including costs, attorney fees, or other appropriate remedies.

K.  Confidentiality of Communications

All oral or written communications in a mediation conference, other than executed settlement agreements, shall be exempt from discovery and shall be confidential and inadmissible as evidence in the underlying cause of action unless all parties agree otherwise.  Evidence with respect to alleged settlement agreements shall be admissible in proceedings to enforce the settlement.  Subject to the foregoing, unless authorized by the parties, the mediator may not disclose any information obtained during the mediation process.

L.  Reports to Supreme Court

The trial court administrator or his/her designee shall provide for the maintenance of records of mediations conducted pursuant to these rules including the number of mediations conducted, the number of mediations resulting in full or partial agreements and those resulting in no agreement.  Such information shall be furnished to the Supreme Court through its administrative office quarterly or at such other interval as may be directed, but in no event less than once a year.

M.  Peer Review Process

All volunteer mediators will be subject to Peer Review once a year.  The review will be conducted by a member of the Peer Review Committee.  The peer reviewer will contact the mediator prior to the mediation date, and will observe the mediation.  After the mediation, the peer reviewer will debrief the mediator and then meet with the Peer Review Committee to discuss his or her observations.  Following the committee meeting, the Peer Review Committee Chair will contact the volunteer with the committee’s decision.

V.  MEDIATOR QUALIFICATIONS

A.  General Requirements

The chief judge shall maintain a list of mediators who have been certified by the circuit court and who have registered for appointment.

Effective January 1, 2005, for certification in major civil cases, an applicant must:

1. Complete a minimum of 30 hours mediation training, in a program approved by the circuit court, during the one (1) year period prior to application or re-application for certification as a mediator under these rules.
2. Observe two circuit court mediations conducted by two different certified circuit court mediators within one (1) year period prior to application or re-application for certification as a mediator under these rules.
3. Be a member in good standing of the Illinois Bar.
4. Submit to the office of the chief judge or designee a completed application in a form prescribed by the circuit court, which may include information including educational background, areas of practice, and years of practice, etc.  By making an application to become certified under these rules, the applicant shall be deemed to have consented to disclosure of the information submitted in connection with his or her application; as well as the nature of cases mediated, number of cases mediated and number of cases settled, and other pertinent information regarding the applicant’s qualifications to attorneys or parties involved in litigation to be mediated as well as any other persons to whom disclosure is deemed appropriate by the circuit court.

B.  Previous Certification

All attorneys who have previously been certified to be a court-annexed major civil case mediator under local court rules shall be deemed to be qualified for the purpose of participating in the Small Claims Court Mediation Project.

C.  Continuing Responsibilities as a Certified Mediator

In each case, the mediator shall comply with this local rule regarding mediation and such other general standards as may, from time to time, be established and promulgated in writing by the chief judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit.

D.  Decertification of Mediators

The chief judge of the circuit court may decertify a mediator previously certified under these rules for any of the following reasons:

1. Revocation or suspension of mediator’s license to practice law in the State of Illinois;
2. Failure or refusal of the mediator to comply with this local rule governing mediation or any general standards issued by the circuit court regarding mediation;
3. Other unprofessional conduct by the mediator that interferes with the ability of the circuit court to provide appropriate mediation services; or

4. The request of the mediator to be decertified.

   

(Adopted 10/19/05)
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 2.10 CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS BY WAY OF CLOSED CIRCUIT TELEVISION

When a defendant's personal appearance is not constitutionally required, a defendant may appear at the following pretrial and post-trial proceedings by way of closed circuit television so long as the following conditions are met:

1.  The defendant is incarcerated; and

2.  The two-way audio-visual system must provide two-way audio-visual communication between the court and the place of custody or confinement, and must include a secure line over which the person in custody and his or her counsel, if any, may communicate; and

3.  The court appearance is for one or more of the following purposes:

A.  the initial appearance before a judge on a criminal complaint, at which bail will be set;

B.  the waiver of a preliminary hearing;

C.  the arraignment on an information or indictment at which a plea of not guilty will be entered;

D.  the presentation of a jury waiver;

E.  any status hearing; and

F.  any hearing conducted under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act at which no witness testimony will be taken.

4. This Rule shall not prohibit other court appearances via closed circuit television upon the waiver of any constitutional right that such incarcerated person might have to be physically present, provided such waiver is made on the record each time such defendant participates through closed circuit television, and further that the defendant has been admonished of their rights pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 402 by the judge presiding.

(Revised 2/29/2008)

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2.11 TELEPHONIC APPEARANCES  

A. Telephonic Appearances   

 1. As a means to increase efficiencies and reduce costs to participants, and pursuant to the provisions of Supreme Court Rule 185, telephonic appearances are hereby allowed for parties and counsel on:

a. Arbitration cases scheduled on Thursdays at 9:00 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and 10:00 a.m. in Courtroom 209 of the Winnebago County Courthouse;  

b. Law-division case management and status calls scheduled on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 9:00 a.m. in Courtrooms 412 and 426 of the Winnebago County Courthouse; and

c. Law-Division calls on Fridays at 9:00 am in Courtroom 3 of the Boone County Courthouse.

Telephonic appearances shall not be permitted for argument on briefed motions, evidentiary hearings, or other matters as designated by the Court as requiring a personal appearance.  Permission to appear telephonically will be denied on all scheduled telephonic appearances that do not strictly comply with this rule.

2. Existing rules and procedures regarding the making of the record by a court reporter or electronic reporting or obtaining a transcript after a hearing shall apply to hearings at which telephonic appearances are made.  No recordings shall be made of any court proceeding or of any telephonic appearances except in compliance with General Order 16.01.

B. Scheduling and Notice

1. No telephonic appearance will be allowed unless it is made through CourtCall, an independent conference servicing company.

2. CourtCall facilitates the telephonic appearance of persons at hearings which have already been scheduled by regular means with the Office of the Winnebago County Circuit Clerk or the Boone County Circuit Clerk.  CourtCall does not set or calendar hearings for the Court.  If a motion is not scheduled and noticed via the Clerk's office in the same manner as any other motion it will not appear on the judge's call and will not be heard.

3. Telephonic appearances must be arranged by contacting CourtCall by phone at (888) 882-6878 or on-line at www.courtcall.com no later than 4:00 p.m. (CST) on the second court day preceding a hearing date. CourtCall will provide persons with a written confirmation of their telephonic appearance and a number to call to make the telephonic appearance. 

4. Persons electing to make a telephonic appearance shall notify all parties of the same either contemporaneously with any written notice of motion or VIA TELEFAX OR EMAIL (OR, IF THE FORMER ARE UNAVAILABLE, BY TELEPHONE) NO LESS THAN 24 HOURS PRIOR TO THE SCHEDULED HEARING.   Nothing in this rule shall be construed as modifying the notice of motion requirements set forth in Supreme Court Rule 12 and Local Rule 10.03.  

C. Appearance Procedure

1. It is the responsibility of the person making a telephone appearance to dial into the call no later than five (5) minutes prior to any scheduled hearing(s), and to check in with the CourtCall clerk. 

2. Persons appearing telephonically shall state his or her name for the record each time he or she speaks and shall participate in the appearance with the same degree of courtesy and courtroom etiquette as is required for a personal appearance.

3. To ensure the quality of the record, the use of car phones, cellular phones, speakerphones, public telephone booths, or phones in other public places is prohibited.   

  

4. If a person schedules a telephonic appearance and then fails to respond when the matter is called, the court may pass the matter or may treat the failure to respond as a failure to appear.  Scheduling simultaneous telephonic appearances in multiple courts does not excuse a failure to appear.  The Court will attempt to reasonably accommodate persons attempting to appear before the Court in both Courtroom 412 and 426 during the co-occurring status calls. 

D. Costs

1. CourtCall is an independent service provider.  By using the services of CourtCall, individuals are knowingly entering into a service agreement and are subject to follow any additional terms and conditions imposed by CourtCall and shall be solely responsible for any costs or other expenses incurred for those services provided.   Under no circumstance shall the Court bear any costs for any telephonic appearance. 

E. Rejections, Refunds, and Suspension of Privileges

1. The fact that a telephonic appearance is scheduled with CourtCall shall not be construed as a determination that the telephonic appearance is permitted by the Court.  Parties and counsel are solely responsible for compliance with the Court’s rules and procedures for telephonic appearances.  The court reserves the right, at any time, to reject any telephonic appearance in violation with this Rule or as otherwise necessary for the administration of justice.  When the court rejects a telephonic appearance, it shall order a refund of the deposited telephonic appearances fees and send notice of the same to CourtCall, LLC.

2. The court shall also reserve the right to halt any telephonic appearance on any matter and order the attorneys to personally appear at a later date and time, in which case no refund is permitted.

3. The court reserves the right and sole discretion to suspend any person’s ability to appear telephonically using CourtCall’s services.  

(Amended 10/23/2015)

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2.12  EXTENDED MEDIA COVERAGE

WHEREAS the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court is approved to permit extended media coverage, it is hereby ordered, effective immediately and until further order of the Court, that extended media coverage shall be made available in the Counties of Winnebago and Boone in accordance with the provisions contained in Illinois Supreme Court Order M.R. 2634 and the Policy for Extended Media Coverage in Circuit Courts of Illinois. 

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the following local provisions are hereby prescribed for extended media coverage within the Counties of Winnebago and Boone.   These local provisions shall be construed consistently as to not conflict with the Illinois Supreme Court Policy for Extended Media Coverage in Circuit Courts of Illinois.  Furthermore, these local provisions shall be construed along with Seventeenth Circuit Court General Order 1.09 which sets forth applicable policies on the general use of electronic devices.  It remains requisite for the news media organizations to be cognizant of the rules regarding the general use of cellular phones and other electronic devices within the courtrooms and outside of the courtroom, but still within the confines of the courthouse. 
A.  Media Coordinator and Court Media Liaison

1.   Media Coordinator.  A single representative acting on behalf of all news media organizations shall be selected to organize and submit requests for extended media coverage and administer all aspects of extended media coverage for the news media.  The media coordinator shall be selected by and among representatives of the news media and shall be approved by the Chief Judge.

2.  Court Media Liaison.   A representative from the Trial Court Administration Office shall serve as the court media liaison.  The court media liaison shall work with the media coordinator on all matters pertaining to extended media coverage.

B.   Requests, Objections and Orders

1.   Requests for extended media coverage.  Requests for extended media coverage filed in Winnebago County shall be filed at the window counter designated for “Practicing Attorneys”.  The form of a request for extended media coverage shall be as prescribed in “Appendix LL-1”. 

2.   Notice of Requests.  The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court shall provide written notice of all filed requests for extended media coverage to all counsel of record, parties appearing without counsel, and the court media liaison.  The media coordinator shall provide a courtesy copy of all filed requests for extended media coverage to the court media liaison.  Upon receipt of a request for extended media coverage, the court media liaison shall inform the judge expected to preside and the Chief Judge.

3.   Objections by Parties. The form of a party’s objection to extended media coverage shall be as prescribed in “Appendix LL-2”.

4.   Objections by Witnesses. The form of a witness’s objection to extended media coverage shall be as prescribed in “Appendix LL-3”.

5.   Notice of Objections. The Office of the Clerk of the Circuit Court shall provide written notice of all filed objections to extended media coverage to all counsel of record, parties appearing without counsel, the media coordinator and the court media liaison. Upon receipt of an objection to extended media coverage, the court media liaison shall inform the judge expected to preside and the Chief Judge.

6.   Written Orders.  The judge shall enter a written order on all requests for extended media coverage specifying the scope of coverage permitted.  An order for extended media coverage shall be effective for all subsequent proceedings until the conclusion of the involved case(s) or as otherwise ordered by the court and subject to ruling on any filed objections.  The form of an order for extended media coverage shall be as prescribed in “Appendix LL-4”.

7.  Timeframe for Request and Objections.  Calendar days shall be used for the purpose of calculating the timeframes for the filing of requests and objections.

  C. Equipment and Courtroom Conduct

  

1.  Enhanced Microphones.  Parabolic or other highly sensitive long range microphones are prohibited.

2.   Assigned Locations.  The court media liaison or designee will direct the news media to their assigned spot(s).  Still photographers and videographers must stay seated unless they are positioned beyond the last row of spectator’s seats.  
3.   Decorum.  In the courtroom, members of the news media shall:

a. Not make comments in the courtroom during court proceedings;

 b. Not comment to or within the hearing of the jury or any member thereof at any time before the jury is dismissed;

c. Not conduct interviews in the courtroom; and

d. Comply with the orders and directives of the court.

4.   Prohibition on Certain Materials.  Focusing on and photographing of materials on counsel tables, materials on evidence carts, or materials that have not yet been presented as evidence is prohibited.

 D.  General Provisions

1.  Temporary and Permanent Installations.  The judge may order the news media to install any manner of temporary courtroom alterations including, but not limited, to a screen or divider to conceal the jury from the view of recording equipment.  No permanent installation of any audio or visual recording equipment shall be made nor shall any court facility be altered, unless approved in advance by the Chief Judge.  All expenses for permanent or temporary installations shall be borne by the news media.

2.   Sub-contracting and Assignment.  Permission for extended media coverage shall not be sub-contracted or assigned.

3.   Non-exclusivity. These guidelines shall not preclude coverage of a judicial proceeding by other members of the news media who have not been granted permission for extended media coverage.

4.  Courthouse Security.  Court security policies require all persons and equipment entering the courthouse to pass through a magnetometer.  News media representatives will not be permitted to bypass screening and should allow sufficient time to get through the magnetometer in advance of the commencement of proceedings.

5.   Inadmissibility in Proceedings. Film, videotape, photography and audio reproductions obtained by and through extended media coverage shall not affect the official court record of the proceeding for purposes of appeal or otherwise.  Nor shall the same be admissible as evidence in the proceeding out of which it arose or in any proceeding subsequent or collateral thereto.

6.  Knowledge of Plan Provisions.  The media coordinator is charged with actual and constructive knowledge of the provisions contained within the Policy for Extended Media Coverage in Circuit Courts of Illinois and this rule.  By the submission of a request for extended media coverage the media coordinator, respective agents from involved news media organizations and designees of such acknowledge and agree to abide by all applicable provisions.   

7.  Sanctions. In addition to contempt and any other sanctions allowed by law, the judge or Chief Judge may remove anyone violating the Policy for Extended Media Coverage in Circuit Courts of Illinois or this rule from the courtroom and revoke the privileges for extended media coverage.

8.  Revocation of Permission. If the media coordinator or any media representative fails to comply with the conditions set forth in the Policy for Extended Media Coverage in Circuit Courts of Illinois, this rule or other orders imposed by the judge or Chief Judge, the judge or Chief Judge may impose restrictions on the dissemination, broadcast and/or publication of extended media coverage.

9.  Revision and Termination   This rule is promulgated in accordance with Illinois Supreme Court Order M.R. 2634.  This rule is subject to revision or termination at any time and without advanced notice.

(Adopted 7/92018)

 

A.  Applicability to Small Claims

Small claims actions with timely filed jury demands shall be subject to Mandatory Arbitration unless otherwise ordered by the assigned trial judge.  The party filing a small claims jury demand shall bring the demand to the attention of the assigned trial judge at that party's first appearance in open court.  A small claims matter referred to Mandatory Arbitration shall retain its assigned SC case number.

B.  Small Claims Pleadings

On motion of either party, or on the court's own motion, the assigned trial judge may permit limited and simplified discovery and/or may require the filing of an Answer and Supreme Court Rule 222 Disclosures.  Once pleadings requirements are satisfied, the small claims action shall be promptly scheduled for arbitration.

 C.  Arbitration of Small Claims

Arbitration of small claims actions with jury demands shall be conducted in accordance with Illinois Supreme Court Rules 89 - 94.  Any party may submit a Rule 90(c) Disclosure Statement. Rule 93 rejection fees shall apply.  

(Adopted 10/21/2013)

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2.14  RESIDENTIAL MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE MEDIATION PROGRAM 

WHEREAS, the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, with the approval of the Illinois Supreme Court, has established by Circuit Court Rule a Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program (hereinafter the “Foreclosure Mediation Program”); and

WHEREAS, said program shall commence on November 1, 2014;

NOW, THEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the following Administrative Procedures are established on the effective date noted above:

A.         Filing Fee/Complaint:  In all Winnebago and Boone County cases where a complaint is to foreclose a residential real estate mortgage (as defined in 735 ILCS 5/15-1203, 15-1207, and 15-1219), the complaint shall clearly designate that the case is subject to mediation and the Circuit Clerk shall charge an additional filing fee to defray the cost of the Foreclosure Mediation Program.  The fees collected shall be forwarded to the County Treasurer for the County in which the case is filed and maintained in a separate fund subject to disbursement on order of the Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.  The additional fee for such case is set at $65 per filing.  The Chief Judge shall report quarterly to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts on the revenue and expenditures of the program in the manner directed by that office.      

A complaint clearly designates that the case is subject to mediation if, below the title, the plaintiff includes the following: "Subject to mediation." In any complaint seeking foreclosure of property other than residential real estate as described above, the plaintiff shall include the following on the complaint, below the title:  "Not subject to Mediation."

B.         Summons: In all residential real estate mortgage foreclosure cases (hereinafter "residential foreclosure cases"), plaintiffs shall use a specific summons in substantially the form set forth as Exhibit FM-1. Attorneys, the court, or the Program Administrator may generate forms for use in foreclosure mediation cases as long as they are substantially similar to the forms approved by the court. Within seven calendar days of service of process on the homeowner defendant in a residential foreclosure case, the plaintiff shall give notice of service to the Circuit Court via email to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . If notice of service is not received by the Circuit Court via email within 7 calendar days of actual service of process on the homeowner, the 21 calendar-day deadline (described in Section G) will not begin until the Circuit Court receives said notice.    

C.         Attachments: In residential foreclosure cases, plaintiff shall also use a Notice of Mediation attached in substantially the form set forth as Exhibit FM-2.  The Notice of Mediation shall be attached to, and served with, the complaint served upon the homeowner/borrower (hereinafter referred to as the “Homeowner”).  If the Court provides a bilingual version of this notice, that form must be used.

D.         Counterclaims to Foreclose a Mortgage: Where the complaint to foreclose a mortgage takes the form of a Counterclaim (i.e. the original complaint is a mechanics lien), any counterclaims to foreclose a residential mortgage must pay the extra filing fee set forth above. Any party in a counterclaim seeking to foreclose a residential mortgage may request mediation by contacting court scheduling to schedule a mediation date. The party requesting and scheduling said date must provide notice of any scheduled date to all other parties to the action.

PRE-MEDIATION CONFERENCE

E.         Intake Coordinator.  The Intake Coordinator shall perform an initial assessment of eligibility and whether a Homeowner should submit their loss mitigation packet indicating the Homeowner is interested in retaining or relinquishing the home.  If the Homeowner is eligible, the Intake Coordinator is to assist the homeowner in assembly of paperwork, etc., designed to make the mediation fruitful.  If mediation is not a viable option, the Intake Coordinator may refer the homeowner to other options.

The Intake Coordinator shall be appointed by the Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit.  If the Intake Coordinator is a private individual or organization, any compensation it will earn for its services must be agreed to with the Chief Judge.     

The Intake Coordinator will inform homeowner applicants that the counselor and/or the housing counseling agency will not provide them with legal services, and direct those desiring but unable to afford legal assistance to contact Prairie State Legal Services.

F.         Program Administrator. The position of the Program Administrator is established to oversee the daily operations of the Program, and whether or not a direct employee of the Seventeenth Circuit, serves only with the approval of the Chief Judge and the Judges presiding over the foreclosure court call and acts as an agent of the court.        

The Program Administrator will inform Homeowner applicants, by notice on the intake webpage and/or in personal meetings with Homeowner applicants that the Foreclosure Mediation Program cannot provide legal services. 

G.        Submission of Application.  Within 21 calendar days of being served by personal or abode service (or as described in Section B), or within 21 calendar days of an order referring the case to mediation as provided below, any Homeowner wishing to pursue mediation is to complete an application online.   The application is to be completed online as instructed in the Notice served with the Summons, or alternative arrangements are to be made with the Program Administrator as instructed in the Notice.  Where service upon a Homeowner is made by publication, the Notice in substantially the form set forth  as Exhibit FM-2 is to be mailed by the Plaintiff to the property address before the first date of publication.  The time for the Homeowner to submit the application discussed above expires 28 calendar days after the first date of publication in a newspaper of general circulation.

Failure to submit an application in the time prescribed shall be treated as a decision by the homeowner to “opt out” of the program.  The submission of the Application by the Homeowner acts as an election to utilize the Foreclosure Mediation Program; in this circumstance, participation on the part of the plaintiff is mandatory.  The following relief may be sought from the Court, for good cause shown:  (1) a Homeowner who fails to timely enter the program may file a motion with the Court seeking referral to mediation; (2) a Homeowner determined to be an unsuitable candidate for mediation may petition the Court for review of that decision, including situations in which the Homeowner’s circumstances have changed; and (3) any party may file a motion with the Court seeking to terminate mediation efforts, for good cause shown.  Any party to a pending residential foreclosure case filed before or after the June 1, 2014, the original effective date of the program may also ask the Court by motion to be entered into the mediation program, or the judge presiding over the case may refer the matter on the Court's own motion.

Upon receipt of the submission of the Application, the Program Administrator shall issue a Notice, to be sent to the Circuit Clerk for filing in the case and to the Plaintiff’s attorney and the Homeowner, advising that the foreclosure mediation process has been implemented for that case.  The Notice shall be in substantially the form set forth as Exhibit FM-3. The Program Administrator shall direct Plaintiff's counsel to provide the Homeowner with a Loss Mitigation packet or servicer/lender-generated relinquishment documents within 15 calendar days of the Notice of Entry.        

The Homeowner must comply with deadlines established in the Application, or by the Program Administrator, for the submission of documents necessary to pursue mediation.  The Program Administrator may extend any such deadlines for submission of documents by up to 7 days if the Homeowner is making a good-faith effort to comply.     

H.         Stay of Foreclosure Proceedings - Discovery.   Upon issuance of the Notice described in the preceding paragraph, the plaintiff is stayed from proceeding with the entry of judgment or confirmation of sale until the conclusion of the mediation process.  A Homeowner is not required to have filed an answer or appearance in the foreclosure action in order to participate in the Foreclosure Mediation Program.  The stay shall include a stay of discovery unless otherwise ordered by the Court.  The stay terminates as described below.     

 I.         Scheduling of Pre-Mediation Conference.   Within 45 calendar days of receipt of the Homeowner’s Application, the Intake Coordinator shall conduct a pre-mediation conference with any Homeowner the Program Administrator determines may be eligible for mediation.  The lender or its attorney may, within 10 calendar days of the Notice of Entry being filed, communicate directly to the Program Administrator any issues or concerns which the lender feels must be addressed in order to make mediation fruitful.  Lenders and their counsel are encouraged to communicate directly with the Program Administrator via email. Should the lender or attorney object to mediation, the lender or its attorney shall send a formal letter to the Program Administrator and the Homeowner describing their reasons for objecting. The Intake Coordinator shall proceed with the pre-mediation appointment, but attach any formal objection letter received to the Pre-Mediation Conference Report described in Section K.   

 J.          Pre-Mediation Conference.   The purpose of the pre-mediation conference is to determine which cases are eligible for mediation.  “Eligibility” means the reasonable prospect of the parties reaching agreement which permits the homeowner to remain in the property or provide for a surrender option..  Only the homeowners and the Intake Coordinator need attend the Pre-Mediation Conference.

At the pre-mediation conference, if the Intake Coordinator determines that mediation will be beneficial, the Program Administrator, or its designee, shall schedule the mediation on a date that is sufficient to give the Homeowner an opportunity to complete the modification packet or relinquishment documents and the plaintiff to have sufficient time to analyze the information submitted.  If it is unclear how long this process will take, the Program Administrator may adjourn the pre-mediation conference to a future date for status per Section O below. Cases are not to be continued generally for any reason.   Plaintiff should confirm to the Program Administrator its receipt of any documents submitted to it, and it is Plaintiff’s responsibility to have reviewed any such submissions prior to any status  conferences of mediation sessions.  Plaintiff's request for additional documents shall be made at least 10 business days prior to any mediation session.  

K.          Pre-Mediation Conference Report.   At the conclusion of the pre-mediation conference, the Intake Coordinator, or its designee, shall complete a Pre-Mediation Conference Report in substantially the form set forth as Exhibit FM-4 .  The Intake Coordinator shall provide the completed report to the Program Administrator for filing with the Circuit Clerk.

If there are unresolved issues or concerns on the part of the Intake Coordinator or the plaintiff, the Pre-Mediation Conference Report may request additional time, not to exceed 21 days, in which to resolve the issues or concerns.

If the Intake Coordinator believes the case is ready for mediation, then it shall issue a Pre-Mediation Conference Report as follows:

(1)   If the plaintiff notified the Program Administrator per Section I that it does not agree that the case is ready or appropriate for mediation, the Intake Coordinator shall so indicate the plaintiff’s objections and the Intake Coordinator’s response on the Pre-Mediation Conference Report (attaching a copy of the objections, as received from the lender or its attorney) and request guidance from the Court as to whether mediation should proceed; or

(2)   If the plaintiff has not timely notified the Program Administrator of an objection per Section I, then the Program Administrator will schedule the case for a mediation date falling no more than 45 calendar days after the issuance of the Pre-Mediation Conference Report (absent court approval for a longer date).

The report shall be transmitted to the Circuit Clerk for filing in the Case being mediated, and a copy shall be provided to the homeowner, the Plaintiff’s attorney, the Program Administrator, and the judge supervising mediation.  If the Report indicates that Mediation is to be scheduled, the stay on foreclosure proceedings continues.  If the Report indicates that Mediation should not be scheduled, or if the Court decides that the case should not be mediated, then the stay is lifted and the Homeowner shall, within 21 calendar days thereafter, file an appearance and answer or responsive pleading with the Circuit Clerk if the homeowner intends to contest the foreclosure. 
 

 MEDIATION    

L.         Timing/Scheduling of Mediation: Mediation shall be scheduled in a timely fashion with a goal of being an expeditious and expense-saving alternative to traditional litigation for all parties.  All parties shall use their best efforts to achieve a timely disposition and not delay the proceedings. The Plaintiff must submit a completed Plaintiff’s Checklist in substantially the form set forth as Exhibit FM-5 to the Program Administrator within 5 business days of completing a loss mitigation review of the Homeowner's submitted documents.

Unless additional documents are requested prior to the first mediation session, the servicer/lender shall have reviewed all documents submitted and made a decision regarding the case by the time of the first session (see Section P below). If a trial payment plan, permanent modification or agreement for relinquishment has been offered, Plaintiff’s counsel shall provide a copy to the Program Administrator within 5 business days of said offer being made.

If for any reason either party cannot attend a mediation session or feels additional time is needed, the party requesting the continuance shall contact the Program Administrator to request a continuance at least 5 business days prior to the scheduled session unless it is an emergency situation.

M.         Phone Usage:  There will be a speakerphone and land line telephone service available for use by the mediator and the parties meeting with the mediator.  Parties should be aware that the availability of other telephone land lines, as well as cellular telephone reception, is limited at the ADR Center.  Consequently, any party wishing to open a second telephone communication with a party not present for the mediation must work within these limitations.  In no case are photographs or recordings of the proceedings, parties or personnel attending allowed.     

N.        Other Lienholders – Right to Participate.  Any other lienholders may attend any scheduled mediation. To the extent the mediator requests that another lienholder be invited to attend, plaintiff’s counsel shall provide such notice.

O.        Status  Conferences:   A status conference may be scheduled in the Program Administrator’s discretion within 45 calendar days of the Pre-Mediation Report. The goals of the status conference are to determine whether a complete loss mitigation packet or servicer/lender-generated relinquishment document has been received, determine pay-off or reinstatement amounts, and determine whether the lender is ready to issue a decision on a Homeowner’s submitted loss mitigation packet or servicer/lender-generated relinquishment document. Once Plaintiff indicates that it is ready to issue a decision, the Program Administrator will schedule a mediation session. Should the Homeowner receive the decision and decide to accept it without further discussion, the Homeowner shall contact the Program Administrator to cancel any pending sessions.         

The status conference may be facilitated by the Intake Coordinator, Program Administrator or a program-approved mediator. The Program Administrator, in his or her discretion, may permit the status conference to be conducted by phone. 

P.        Mediation – Good Faith -- Sanctions:   Mediation will be conducted at the 17th Judicial Circuit ADR Center, 308 West State Street, Suite 25, Rockford, IL 61101.  At the mediation, plaintiff’s counsel must appear in person.  In addition, plaintiff’s representative with full authority to make decisions on the case must appear in person or by telephone. The representative may be an underwriter, loss mitigation person, or any other representative with full authority to enter into a loan modification agreement or to negotiate a disposition. All Homeowners defendant borrowers shall be present in person; the Homeowner’s attorney, and any other lienholders/titleholder, if any, are permitted to attend. The Program Administrator, in his or her discretion, may permit any party to appear by phone.

The mediator shall remind both the Homeowner and the plaintiff of the need to complete matters in a timely fashion and to participate in the mediation process in good faith.  All parties shall participate in good faith, which shall at a minimum mean timely appearance at status conferences and mediation sessions, and avoiding conduct which unnecessarily delays the process (for example; not providing the Program Administrator with a Loss Mitigation application packet or relinquishment documents within 15 calendar days once a Homeowner is deemed eligible for the program; failure to adhere to any agreements entered into; not providing or requesting documents within the time frames specified in these rules; or indicating a readiness for the case to be set with a mediator when it is not per the Plaintiff’s Checklist).  It is the Plaintiff’s responsibility to have reviewed all submissions prior to any status conferences or mediation sessions.

Failure to abide by the mediation rules, or failure to participate in good faith in the mediation process, may result in sanctions to be imposed by the Circuit Court.  For Lenders, sanctions may include, but are not limited to, dismissal of the action by the Court, with the Lender unable to recover its costs of re-filing in any subsequent foreclosure action. Upon written motion, additional sanctions for either party may include, but are not limited to, reasonable attorney’s fees, fines, and lost wages attributable to the misconduct. Additionally, sanctions may include ordering the parties to return to mediation under conditions to be established by the judge presiding over the case, or in egregious cases dismissal, default on the merits, and/or monetary sanctions. The judge may place a party or lawyer/law firm in a probationary status, short of sanctions, to address recurrent problems.          

Q.         Mediation Report – Termination – Finalization of Agreement.  At the conclusion of the mediation, the Mediator shall for each case complete a report in substantially the form as set forth as Exhibit FM-6.  The report shall indicate one of the following regarding the result of the mediation:

1.         The mediation resulted in a permanent or trial-period loan modification or other agreement between the parties, and the Plaintiff will either dismiss the case in due course or leave the matter pending to allow for a trial modification period between the parties.  If the agreement fails, the Plaintiff may file a motion seeking relief from the stay and the entry of judgment.

2.         The mediation has not yet been successful, but the case should be put on hold to permit further interaction between the Plaintiff and the Homeowner, such as review of additional documents.

3.         The mediation did not result in any agreement or trial agreement.  If any party failed to participate in the mediation in good faith, the Mediator should so indicate.

4.          If any party failed, at any time during the mediation program, to follow the guidelines set forth in Section P, the Mediator or Program Administrator should so indicate. 

The Mediation Report is to be submitted to the Program Administrator, with a copy to each participant in attendance.  The Program Administrator is to file the report with the Circuit Clerk for filing with the case being mediated, and copies mailed to any party not in attendance at the mediation. 

In circumstance No. 1 or No. 2, above, the stay described in Paragraph G of this rule remains in effect.  In the third circumstance, the stay terminates 21 calendar days after the issuance of the Mediation Report.

R.        Communications to Remain Confidential.  All communications during mediation sessions and status conferences, any communication between the Program Administrator and any party to the case, and all documents used by the Intake Coordinator, Program Administrator and the mediator, except for the Plaintiff's Checklist, any written agreement, or official reports to the court regarding the results of the mediation or pre-mediation conference, or any status conference are to be kept confidential and will be maintained in a separate place for the use of the Court. They are not official court case file records and are not discoverable. One of the program's goals is to encourage the parties to fully communicate by engaging in a confidential mediation process.  However, where there is a contention that a party to mediation has failed to participate in good faith in mediation, or where there is an issue raised regarding non-compliance with these Rules, the Judge may permit inquiry as needed to explore that contention.

MEDIATORS

S.         Appointment, Qualifications, and Compensation of Mediators.  The Chief Judge shall maintain a list of certified mediators and shall, by General Order, issue a schedule for their compensation.  For approval as a mediator, an individual must submit an application to the Chief Judge and satisfy the following requirements:

            (a)        Be a retired judge; or

            (b)        Be a member in good standing of the Illinois bar with at least five (5) years of litigation experience in foreclosures or at least ten (10) years of general real estate and/or litigation experience (or, if retired, may seek approval from Chief Judge if these requirements were met as of the time of retirement); and

            (c)        Complete a 40 hour civil mediation course and a mortgage foreclosure mediation training program approved by the Chief Judge.

T.          Conflicts.  Mediators approved for the Foreclosure Mediation Program by the Chief Judge shall not participate in residential mortgage mediations in this program in any case in which he or she represents a party in the foreclosure litigation.  Upon approval, each mediator shall sign a certification acknowledging this prohibition. Violation of this provision will result in the mediator's removal from the Foreclosure Mediation Program.

U.          Review of Eligibility.  The eligibility of each mediator to retain his or her status shall be periodically reviewed by the Chief Judge. The mediators shall comply with general standards established by the Chief Judge. Failure to adhere to these general standards may be grounds for revocation of mediator approval by the Chief Judge. The Chief Judge may contract with an outside mediation service to provide these services.

V.          Contract for Mediation Services.  The Chief Judge may enter into a contract with an entity to provide mediation services subject to all Court Rules and Procedures.     

MISCELLANEOUS

W.          Statistics.  The Chief Judge shall maintain statistical data on the results of mediation, including the number of cases where the initial criteria were met and the number of cases where loans were modified or otherwise worked out between the parties and shall report the same to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts at such times and in such manner as required.

X.        Immunity.  The Intake Coordinator and any person approved to act as a mediator under these rules, while acting within the scope of his or her duties, shall have judicial immunity in the same manner and to the same extent as a judge in the State of Illinois as provided in Supreme Court Rule 99.

Y.          Ineligible Cases.  Foreclosures of non-residential or commercial property are not eligible for mediation.  Cases involving residential real estate in which any or all defendant borrowers have a pending bankruptcy, and where the bankruptcy stay on foreclosure proceedings remains in effect, are not eligible for mediation.

Z.          Training for Court Personnel.  All mortgage foreclosure judges, key court personnel and volunteers designated by the Chief Judge shall complete training regarding mortgage foreclosure mediation as approved by the Chief Judge.

AA.         Meaningful Language Access.  Translation services shall be provided by the Intake Coordinator and the 17th Circuit ADR Center by either a competent translator or via “Language Line” services, as needed.     

BB.        Program Closure. The program will be closed annually from December 25th through January 1st, or if either date falls on a weekend, whichever dates the court is closed for these two holidays. All deadlines or other matters due within this timeframe are extended 7 calendar days from the due date.  

CC.        Sustainability Plan. It is contemplated that the Program will be sustained as needed and be self-sufficient as a result of the filing fee.  The Program will be re-assessed for financial viability at least annually, and/or immediately if any resources provided for funding are reduced or discontinued.            

(Enacted 10/27/2014, Revised 3/20/2018)

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A.  Form of Jury Instructions

Jury Instructions shall be produced in clear, black print on white, opaque, unglazed paper, 8 ½ by 11 inches. Only one side of the paper may be used. The text must be single spaced, with each paragraph separated by one single space. Margins must be left justified and be one inch on all sides (except indentations as permitted).

Documents may be produced by a word-processing system, typewritten or commercially printed, and reproduced by any process that provides clear copies consistent with the requirements of this rule. Typeface must be 12-point Times New Roman font throughout the document. Condensed type is prohibited. Carbon copies are not permitted.

B.  Submission of Jury Instructions

Each party shall provide the court with two copies of each instruction. The first set of instructions shall be unmarked in a form suitable for submission to the jury. The second set of instructions shall be marked in advance in the following manner: the party's designation and instruction number, the I.P.I. number or citation to legal authority supporting the giving of the instruction, and the words "Given", "Withdrawn" and "Refused", followed by an underlined area to be checked, if appropriate. In addition, each party shall supply to the opposing party a set of “marked” instructions.          

(Amended 5/19/2016)

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A.  Pursuant to the 17th Circuit Court's Language Access Plan , interpretation services are available to assist limited English proficient persons for all routine matters appearing on the Court docket.  
 
B. Any limited English proficient (LEP) party requiring the assistance of interpreting services for a duration of fifteen minutes or less shall complete an Interpreter Request Form available under “Available Resources” at 17thcircuit.illinoiscourts.gov (lower right of “home” page) for each court appearance. Completion of this form advises the court that the LEP party will be present for that specific court date.
 
Court personnel, attorneys, or service providers aware of the need for an interpreter are encouraged to complete an Interpreter Request Form.
 
C. If at any time an LEP party requires interpreting services for a duration of more than fifteen minutes (for example a plea, prove-up, evidentiary hearing, trial), the LEP party, or his or her attorney, shall (i) file a motion to appoint an interpreter, directed to the judge presiding, and (ii) provide a copy of any Order generated regarding interpreting services to Trial Court Administration within 2 business days of the order being generated, but not less than three weeks prior to scheduled court date for Spanish requests or four weeks prior for all other languages.
 
D. A requesting party has the continuing duty to advise the Court Administrator’s Office in writing of any changes affecting the scheduling of the interpreter, including rescheduling of court dates, new court dates, change of hearing type, or the anticipated non-appearance of the LEP party. Cancellation of interpretation services shall be made as soon as possible, and no later than three business days prior to the next court date, by notification to the Court Administrator’s Office to avoid undue expense and inconvenience.               

(Enacted 4/3/2018)

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A.  General
 1. The provisions of this rule apply to Fee Petitions presented to the Court for approval and payment by the County by attorneys appointed to represent indigent parties. This rule does not apply to: 
(a) Guardians Ad Litem retained by parties wherein the expenditures do not obligate public funds; and
(b) Attorneys retained under contract.  
B.  Filing and Approval            
1. Fee Petitions, accompanied by a detailed invoice and proposed Order for Attorneys Fees, shall be e-filed in those cases where e-filing is mandated and be submitted over-the-counter in those cases where e-filing is not mandated.
 
2. The presiding judge will review the Petition pursuant to the standards set forth in Supreme Court Rule 299 and enter an Order ruling on the fee petition or setting the matter for hearing.
 
3. Once approved, a copy of  the Fee Petition and invoice, with an unduplicated invoice number from the attorney’s office, shall be submitted to the respective Trial Court Administration Office:       
Winnebago County Courthouse
400 W. State Street
Rockford, Illinois 61101
 
Boone County Courthouse
601 N. Main Street
Belvidere, Illinois 61008      
4. Fee Petitions shall be named to indicate whether it is the first petition for fees, second petition for fees, and so on. When applicable, Fee Petitions shall also conform to General Order 4.06.
 
5.   Unless otherwise obligated to submit Fee Petitions by statute, Fee Petitions shall be filed with the court within 90 days of the initial appointment, at every 90-day period thereafter throughout the course of the appointment, and no later than 60 days after entry of a final order disposing of the case.  
C. Content of Detailed Invoices 
1.   A separate Fee Petition and invoice is required for each case appointment. Each invoice shall conform to the following:  
(a)  Time for work spent performing a service should be reported in tenths of an hour (.1);
(b)  Each task performed must be reflected separately;
(c)  Separate, unrelated tasks shall not be “bundled” in one entry;
(d)  Without violating Canons of Ethics or disclosure of attorney work product, entries must include specific detail to permit meaningful review including, but not limited to: specifying identifying information for witness interviews, identification of participants in telephone conversations or conferences and topic discussed, specific topics researched, identification of documents reviewed, identification of documents prepared including the number of pages and an explanation sufficient to explain their relevance to the case; and
(e)   In-Court time and Out-of-Court time shall be clearly delineated on each invoice.
2.  The following activities, generally, should not be included in Fee Petitions and invoices:  
(a)   Activities that are purely administrative, including but not limited to opening of a case, closing of a case, or time spent preparing an invoice; and
(b)   Uncompleted phone calls where a voicemail is not left.  
D. Transcript Fees
1.   Requests for payment by the County for transcript fees shall submit the following to the Supervisor of Court Reporters for the 17th Judicial Circuit: the Transcript Request Form, a copy of the Appointment Order, and a copy of an order specifying that the costs of the requested transcript is to be paid by the County. The Transcript Request Form shall be specific as to what portion of the record is sought.    
 
(Enacted 9/4/2018)      
 
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