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  PART 22.00  E-Filing   


   22.01 E-FILING RULES FOR THE 17TH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT COURT  

A.    AUTHORITY

The 17th Judicial Circuit Court has been approved to accept the electronic filing of documents in civil proceedings. Specific authority has been granted for by Illinois Supreme Court Order M.R. 18368 is dated October 24, 2012, and became effective January 1, 2013. Electronic filing shall operate pursuant to the Electronic Filing Standards and Principles set out in the Supreme Court Order.

 

B.     EFFECTIVE DATE       

These rules became effective on April 1, 2015 for civil e-filing in Winnebago County, and are effective July 25, 2016 for civil and criminal e-filing in both Winnebago County and Boone County, and shall remain in effect until further order.

 

C.    DESIGNATION OF ELECTRONIC FILING CASE TYPES     
  1. This Court hereby authorizes all civil case types with the exception of W (Will Filing) as permissible electronic filing case types. With approval of the Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, the Court may authorize by written Administrative Order additional types of cases that may be processed via electronic filing. The Circuit Clerk shall direct the phasing in of case types.
  2. Any notice of appeal or post judgment enforcement proceeding documents may be e-filed and served in accordance with Supreme Court Rules.
  3. With exception to the Notice of Personal Identity Information Within Court Filing per Supreme Court Rule 15 effective January 1, 2012, and the Notice of Confidential Information With Court Filing per Supreme Court Rule 138, effective July 1, 2013, wills (or other testamentary documents), documents required to be maintained in original form pursuant to the Manual on Recordkeeping, and notices in entirely impounded, sealed, expunged, or confidential cases, in addition to individual documents to be sealed or impounded or documents that are filed directly with the judge (e.g. proposed orders) shall be filed in the conventional manner of filing and not by e-filing. Exhibits and photographs shall be filed in a conventional manner in Winnebago County and electronically in Boone County.  Additional requirements regarding the filing of documents, exhibits and photographs are set forth in Section I below. 
  4. The Clerk of the Court may reject any unapproved document type filed electronically by a subscriber, including but not limited to original wills. 

                

D.    DEFINITIONS  

The following terms in these rules are defined as follows:

  1. ARDC # - The registration number issued by the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission to attorneys practicing in Illinois.
  2. Clerk or Clerk of the Court - The Office of the Winnebago County Circuit Clerk or the Office of the Boone County Circuit Clerk.
  3. Conventional manner of filing - The filing of paper documents with the Clerk. 
  4. Electronic Document ("e-document") - An electronic file containing informational text.
  5. Electronic Filing ("e-file") - An electronic transmission of information between a Subscriber and the Circuit Clerk through a Vendor’s intermediary services. 
  6. Electronic Image ("e-image") - An electronic representation of a document that has been transformed to a graphical or image format.
  7.  Electronic Service ("e-service") - An electronic transmission of documents to or access to documents by a party, attorney or representative in a case via the Vendor.
  8. Electronic Signature ("e-signature") - An electronic signature of one of three forms: a signature comprised of text (e.g., "/s/ John Smith"), an image of a manual signature, or application of a digital signature.
  9. Facsimile Signature - A reproduction of a manual signature, saved electronically.
  10.  PDF - Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format that preserves all fonts, formatting colors and graphics of any source document regardless of the application platform used.
  11. Statewide Standard - the "Electronic Filing Standard and Principles" approved by the Illinois Supreme Court by M.R. 18368 on October 24, 2012, as amended from time to time.
  12.  Subscriber - One contracting with a Vendor to use the e-filing system.
  13. Typographical Signature - A signature comprised of text (e.g., "/s/ Jane Doe").
  14. Vendor - A company or organization that has an executed Electronic Information Project Agreement with the Clerk of the Circuit Court to provide e-filing services for the 17th Judicial Circuit.

   

E.     AUTHORIZED USERS

  1. The Clerk of the Circuit Court shall accept and approve filings electronically through a Vendor or through the Clerk’s computer workstation.
  2. At no time shall the e-filing program prevent or exclude the ability to file any valid pleading with the Clerk of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in conventional paper format. In those circumstances, the Clerk shall scan conventionally filed documents into the electronic file.
  3. Prior to filing any document electronically, users are required to register with the Clerk of Court and the Court’s authorized e-filing Vendor.
  4. Attorneys must register with the Clerk of Court and shall at a minimum provide the following information: firm name, attorney names and ARDC registration numbers, address, phone number, email address for e-service, staff contact information, and a selected approved method for paying filing fees. 
  5. Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission numbers will be used as the identifier for attorneys to verify that an attorney is licensed and in good standing with the Illinois Supreme Court. The Clerk is authorized to verify whether an attorney who registers as a user is authorized to practice in Illinois.
  6. Pro se litigants may utilize e-filing through a Vendor on the internet in the manner prescribed by the Clerk.
  7. All users shall be registered upon confirmation of authorization by the Clerk of the Circuit Court. All registrations will be used to identify the source of the e-filed document submitted electronically to the court.
  8. The Clerk of the Circuit Court shall provide attorneys and parties in e-filed cases access to an e-file computer workstation. E-filing workstations shall be available during normal business hours and without charge.
  9. Subscribers shall be registered upon confirmation of authorization by the clerk. Subscribers and individual registrations will be used to properly identify the source of incoming electronically filed documents.

     

     

F.     METHOD OF FILING  

  1. The Circuit Court hereby authorizes and encourages electronic filing in each of the designated cases as identified in Section C above. The Clerk of the Circuit Court may accept subsequent filings electronically through an approved Vendor online or through the Clerk’s computer workstation.
  2. At no time shall the ability to file electronically prevent or exclude the ability to file any valid pleading with the Clerk of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court in conventional paper format. Filer may use the e-filing system to request the scheduling of matters.  Hearings may not be set solely by the Filer by use of a message accompanying an e-filing.  Hearings shall be scheduled with the Court per existing practices.
  3. The method of filing shall not affect the right of access to court documents.  The Clerk shall maintain public access viewing terminals to allow electronic records and electronic documents to be displayed to the public.  Electronic access and dissemination of court records shall be in accordance with the Electronic Access Policy for Circuit Court Records of the Illinois Courts.

      

G.    MAINTENANCE OF ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS  

  1. Original signed documents must exist in the filing person’s possession, and anyone who files an electronic document that requires an original signature certifies by so filing that they do indeed have the original signed document.  Unless otherwise ordered by the Court, the filing party shall maintain and preserve all original documents containing original signatures that are filed electronically.  Those signed originals shall be made available for inspection by the Court, the Clerk of the Circuit Court, or by any other counsel in the case upon a notice of five days.  At any time, the Clerk of the Court may request from the filing party a hard copy of an electronically filed document which shall be provided upon reasonable notice within five business days.
  2. All documents that are required to be maintained and preserved must be kept either in electronic or paper format for one year after the appellate process period has been completed.

     

     

H.    PRIVACY

  1. It is the responsibility of the filing party counsel to insure that documents or exhibits (as allowed) filed electronically do not disclose previously or statutorily impounded or sealed information or private information defined in Supreme Court Rules 15 and 138.  The Clerk is not responsible for the content of filed documents and has no obligation to review, redact, or screen any expunged, sealed, or impounded information.
  2. All documents in confidential, impounded, or sealed cases must be submitted conventionally to the Circuit Clerk’s Office for filing. A party who has a legal basis for filing a document under seal without prior court order must electronically file a motion for leave to file under seal.  The motion must include an explanation of how the document meets the legal standards for filing sealed documents.  The document in question may not be attached to the motion as an attachment.
  3. In addition to the materials referenced in Supreme Court Rules 15 and 138, parties and their counsel shall refrain from including, or shall redact where inclusion is necessary, the following personal identifiers from all documents electronically filed with the court unless otherwise ordered by the court.

a.       Social Security Numbers, Driver’s License Numbers, and Tax Payer Identification: If an individual’s Social Security Number must be included in a document, only the last four digits of the number shall be used.  An individual’s Driver’s License Number shall not be used.  

b.      Financial Account Numbers:  If financial account numbers are relevant, only the last four digits of these numbers shall be used.

   

I.      FORMAT OF DOCUMENTS  

  1. All electronically filed pleadings shall, to the extent practicable, be formatted in accordance with the applicable rules governing the formatting of paper pleadings. Additionally, each electronically filed pleading and document shall include the case title, the case number, and the nature of the filing.
  2. Each electronically filed document shall also include the typed name, e-mail address, address and telephone number of the attorney or pro-se party filing such document. Attorneys shall include their ARDC Number on all documents.     
  3. Documents shall be formatted as follows: 

    a. The size of the type in the body of the test must be no less than 12 point font and the footnotes no less than 10 point font

    b. The size of the pages must be 8 ½ by 11 inches

    c. The margins on each side of the page must each be a minimum of 1 inch

    d. The top right 2 inch by 2 inch corner of the first page of each pleading shall be left blank for the clerk’s stamp

  4. Documents must be converted to PDF directly from the program creating the document, rather than from the scanned image of a paper document. Documents only in paper format may be scanned and converted to PDF for electronic filing. In the event that proposed orders are submitted in a case, the PDF of the proposed order must be generated directly from a word processing program.
  5. Inasmuch as technology changes, the maximum file size allowable is available in the Vendor's program materials. If a document exceeds the maximum size allowed, the filer will file multiple documents, each under the maximum file size. In such case, the user will be responsible for dividing the document into appropriately sized parts.
  6. Any electronically filed document must be in portable document format. PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format that has captured all the elements of a printed document as an electronic image that you can view, navigate, print, or forward to another party. PDF files are created using Adobe Acrobat, Acrobat Capture, or similar products. The e-filing Vendor is required to make each electronically filed document that is not infected by a virus available for transmission to the Clerk immediately after successful receipt and virus checking of the document.
  7. Bulk filings of multiple cases or multiple documents combined into one PDF document shall not be accepted; however, multiple citations being electronically filed may be transmitted to the Circuit Clerk as a single transaction directly from the law enforcement agency. Documents with different case numbers must be filed individually in separate transactions. Filing of individual documents within a case shall be accepted in a single electronic filing transaction; however, each individual document must be uploaded and titled individually in accordance with 17th Circuit Court General Order 9.09.
  8. Documents submitted for e-filing may be rejected if not complying with the format specified by: a) applicable statute; b) applicable Supreme Court or local rule; C) the Statewide Standards; or d) Section 7 above.
  9. Documents filed by pro se parties that do not comply with the formats set forth by the applicable statute or rule shall be reviewed for acceptance by the court prior to rejection.
  10. Electronic documents containing links to material either within the filed document or external to the filed document are for convenience purposes only. The external material behind the link is not considered part of the filing or the basic record.
  11. In Boone County, file exhibits not readily available in electronic form (e.g. blueprints, large maps) may be filed conventionally.  If possible, however, a filing party should scan a paper exhibit and file it electronically, in accordance with the size and scanning limitations.  A party electronically filing evidentiary materials must include an index listing each item of evidence and identifying the related paper.

              

J.      SIGNATURES AND AUTHENTICATION  

  1. Any document filed electronically, including all pleadings, motions, documents, etc., using a verified user authentication shall be deemed to have been signed by the holder of the user authentication.  Documents containing facsimile or typographical signatures may be filed electronically and shall be deemed to have been signed in person by the individual identified. 
  2. In the absence of a facsimile or typographical signature, any document electronically filed with a user’s identification and password is deemed to have been personally signed by the holder of the user identification and password.
  3. Documents containing signatures of one or more persons or third parties may be filed electronically and shall bear a facsimile or typographical signature. The filing party or attorney must confirm approval of all persons, persons not a party to the case or not registered persons, required to sign the document.
  4. All Judges and other necessary electronic signatures shall be captured and maintained by the circuit clerk. Each signature shall be protected in the system and use security tokens and encrypted passwords to authenticate the use of the e-signature.
  5. Original signatures of all non-electronic filers must be obtained before filing the document. The document must indicate the identity of each non-registered signatory. The filing party must retain the original document until one year after the date that the judgment has become final by the conclusion of direct review or the expiration of the time for seeking such review.
  6. On occasions where the Clerk is required to endorse a document, the typed name of the Clerk shall be deemed to be the Clerk’s signature on an electronic document.
  7. Signatures as defined in subparagraphs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 satisfy Supreme Court Rules and statutes regarding signatures, and give rise to the application of available sanctions when appropriate.
  8. An original signed document that has been electronically filed pursuant to subparagraphs 1, 2, 3, and 5 above, shall be maintained and preserved as required by Section G. 

 

K.    TIME OF FILING, ACCEPTANCE BY THE CLERK, AND ELECTRONIC FILING STAMP  

  1. Any document filed electronically shall be considered as filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court upon review and acceptance, and the transmission has been completed with the Clerk's electronic filing stamp.
  2. A person who files a document electronically shall have the same responsibility as a person filing a document in the conventional manner for ensuring that the document is complete, readable, and properly filed.
  3. The transmission date and time of transfer shall govern the electronic file mark.  Pleadings received by the clerk before midnight on a day the courthouse is open shall be deemed filed that day.  If filed on a day the courthouse is not open for business, the document will be deemed filed the next business day.
  4. Upon receipt by the Vendor, and submission of an electronic document to the Clerk, the Vendor shall issue a confirmation to the subscriber. The confirmation shall indicate the time and date of receipt, and shall serve as proof that the document has been submitted to the Clerk. A subscriber will receive e-mail notification from the Vendor if a document is not accepted by the Clerk's office. In that event, the subscriber may be required to re-file the document to meet necessary filing requirements.
  5. Each document reviewed and accepted for filing by the Clerk of Court shall receive an electronic file stamp. The stamp shall be endorsed in the name of the Circuit Clerk by the deputy clerk accepting the filing, and shall include the identification of the court, the official time and date of filing, and contain the word "FILED". This file stamp shall be merged with the electronic document and shall be visible when the document is printed and viewed on-line. Electronic documents are not officially filed without the electronic filing stamp. Filings so endorsed shall have the same force and effect as documents time stamped in the conventional manner. While the case is pending, the Clerk shall retain an audit trail of submission, acceptance, and filing of electronic documents by recording the dates and times transmitted, received, and accepted or rejected.  

 

L.     COURTESY COPIES AND FILING PROOF OF SERVICE  

  1. Electronic means of transmitting service copies is intended to address service of documents other than original process; see generally Supreme Court Rules 11 and 12. Where any document must be personally served, such as original process, a rule to show cause, etc., electronic service is not intended as a substitute for personal service.  Service of documents in criminal cases to  pro se defendant who it not represented by counsel shall, unless waived, be made as otherwise provided by rule or statute.
  2. All other documents may be served upon the other parties or their representatives electronically through the e-file Vendor. The filing party or attorney shall be responsible for completing electronic service of these other documents using the Vendor's system.
  3. If a party or party's designee has not subscribed to a Vendor's services, service of all other documents are pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 12.
  4. In accordance with Supreme Court Rule 12, e-service via email shall be deemed complete on the first court day following transmission by the e-file Vendor or party.  The electronic service of a pleading or other document shall be considered as valid and effective service on all parties and shall have the same legal effect as personal service of an original paper document.
  5. If electronic service on a party does not occur because of (1) inaccessibility to the Vendor's system, (2) an error in the Vendor's transmission of notice to the party being served, (3) the Vendor's failure to process the electronic filing for service, or (4) the party was erroneously excluded from the service list, the party to be served shall, absent extraordinary circumstances, be entitled to an order extending the date for any response or the period within which any right, duty or other act must be performed. This provision does not purport to empower the court to waive deadlines established by statute or by the Illinois Supreme Court.
  6. The e-filing Vendor is required to maintain an e-service list for each e-filed case. The Vendor shall immediately update the service list upon being given notice of new contact information. Whenever a document is submitted for service upon other parties by the e-filing Vendor's system, the e-filing Vendor shall use the most current e-service list to perform service.
  7. All subscribers and other participants must immediately, but not later than ten business days prior to when such a change takes effect, notify other parties, the Clerk, and the e-filing Vendor of any change of firm name, delivery address, fax number or e-mail address.
  8. Paper courtesy copies of documents customarily required to be provided to the court shall continue to be required in e-file cases, absent a specific court order to the contrary.
  9. Copies of any document or certification of same shall be available to the requesting party at a reasonable cost, including all fees as set by rule or statute.

 

M.   COLLECTION OF FEES

  1. The e-filing of a document requiring payment of a statutory filing fee to the Clerk of the Court in order to achieve valid filing status shall be filed electronically in the same manner as any other e-file document.
  2. All subscribers shall establish either a pre-paid draw down account with the Clerk of the Court or maintain a valid electronic payment account with the e-filing Vendor for the payment of statutory filing fees.
  3. Fees charged to e-filing subscribers by the Vendor for Vendor services are solely the property of the Vendor and are in addition to any statutory fees associated with statutory filing fees.
  4. At the end of each business day, the Vendor shall electronically transmit to the Clerk's bank account all statutory filing fees required for that day's electronic filings. The Vendor shall electronically provide the Clerk and the Clerk's Accounting Department a detailed breakdown including case number, type of transaction, and party being billed for the payment for each deposit. The Vendor shall act as a limited agent for the Clerk and collect such required filing fees from the subscriber through direct billing of that subscriber, unless the payment of the fee has been waived by court order or law.
  5. When the electronic filing includes a request for waiver of fees by a petition for indigence, payment of the requisite fees shall be stayed until the court rules on the petition.
  6. Copies of any document or certification of same shall be available to the requesting party at a reasonable cost, including all applicable fees as set by rule or statute.
  7. Filings initiated by Court partner agencies in criminal cases (e.g. States Attorney, Public Defender, Attorney General, Law Enforcement) shall be exempt from the payment of filing fees and any vendor fees, as appropriate.

 

N.    SYSTEM OR USER ERRORS  

  1. The Court and Clerk of the Circuit Court shall not be liable for malfunction or errors occurring in electronic transmission or receipt of electronically filed or served documents.
  2. If the electronic filing is not filed with the Clerk because of (1) an error in the transmission of the document to the Vendor which was unknown to the sending party,  (2) a failure to process the electronic filing when received by the Vendor,  (3) rejection by the Circuit Court Clerk, (4) other technical problems experienced by the filer,  or (5) the party was erroneously excluded from the service list, the Court may upon good cause shown enter an order permitting the document to be subsequently filed effective as of the date filing was first attempted.
  3. In the case of a filing error, absent extraordinary circumstances, anyone prejudiced by the court's order to accept a subsequent filing effective as of the date filing was first attempted shall be entitled to an order extending the date for any response, or the period within which any right, duty or other act must be performed. 

 

O.    VENDOR CONDITIONS

  1. E-filing Vendor(s) with Electronic Information Project Agreements executed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court are hereby appointed to be the agent of the Clerk of the Circuit Court regarding electronic filing, receipt, service and/or retrieval of any pleading or document via the e-filing Vendor system.
  2. The e-filing Vendor shall make electronically filed documents, and documents being served electronically through the e-filing Vendor's system, available to subscribers and the designated court authorized users through the e-filing Vendor's system in accordance with the current contract between the Clerk and the e-filing Vendor, and consistent with the Supreme Court's Electronic Access Policy for Circuit Court Records of the Illinois Courts.
  3. The e-filing Vendor may require payment of a fee or impose other reasonable requirements by contract with a subscriber as conditions for processing electronic filings. Pursuant to contract terms, the e-filing Vendor must provide services but is not permitted to require payment of a fee for government users or parties deemed indigent by the Court.
  4. The Chief Judge of the Court or his/her designee, in coordination with the Clerk of the Court, shall review and approve the terms of the Subscriber Agreement.  The Vendor shall provide at least thirty days’ notice prior to the effective date of any changes to the Subscriber Agreement.
  5. Ownership of the documents and access to the data associated with all e-filed documents remains with the Court.  The electronic documents processed by the e-filing Vendor remain the property of the Court and neither the documents nor the data from the documents and/or transactions shall be used by the e-filing Vendor for any purpose other than those specifically authorized by the Chief Judge of this Court or his/ her designee in coordination with the Clerk of the Court.

 

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(Enacted 3/19/2015, Amended 7/25/2016)

       

     

 
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