Remote court proceedings will continue in Cook County due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, Judge James Flannery of the Law Division of the Cook County Circuit Court signed General Administrative Order 20-6, providing guidance on the re-opening of Cook County courts and the extension of remote court proceedings. To safeguard the health of jurors, court employees and the public, all Law Division operations will resume via remote access.
The setting of trial dates for jury cases is suspended until further notice. Start dates for jury trials scheduled between March 17 and December 31, 2020 are changed to trial setting dates. When jury trials resume, all participants will receive 30-days’ notice, providing the date, time, and manner for setting new trials.
Initial Case Management
Dates will be scheduled for approximately 180 days from the date of filing.
Case Management Procedures
To limit in-person presence in court, both case management and status court dates originally set to occur between March 17 and December 31, 2020 will be rescheduled to a date after January 4, 2021. However, judges may still choose to schedule or reset any court date prior to December 31, 2020. Rescheduled dates will be posted on the Clerk of the Circuit Courts electronic docket.
New form case management orders will be used in all cases, according to the case type. For new cases (cases filed after March 17, 2020), all parties will prepare a CMC order and submit to the assigned motion judge no later than 14 days after all parties have appeared, or no later than July 30, 2020. For pending cases, counsel will meet and confer to prepare a CMC order and submit to the assigned motion judge for approval prior to August 13, 2020.
Case management and discovery will continue remotely via telephone and/or video conference. If parties disagree on how to proceed with discovery, the assigned judge has discretion to, upon motion, determine these issues.
Motion Section Procedure
During business hours, all regular, routine, and emergency motions must be submitted to the assigned motion judge’s email address (see list). All documents submitted must be in PDF format and comply with the motion judges’ standing order as well as the emailing requirements identified in Section 3.3 of the Order. For further information on the particular requirements for motions, and for the requirements pertaining to emergency motions, please reference the full text of the Order.
Newly Filed Motions: Motions electronically filed must use the “DO NOT SCHEDULE” option. Newly filed motions must also be emailed to the assigned judge, with copies sent to all parties. Motions previously e-filed and scheduled for presentation between March 17 and December 31 of this year, that have not had a brief or an additional order issued regarding the motion, are stricken and need to be renoticed pursuant to Section 1.7.
Standing Order for Remote Participation
The Cook County Law Division also has issued a standing order detailing the guidelines and expectations for parties engaging in remote court proceedings.
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 45 allows the court to let participants engage in a remote court proceeding by phone or video conference. Sworn testimony cannot be taken remotely. However, if good cause is shown, a court may allow one or more participants in a civil trial or evidentiary hearing to testify remotely pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 241. See our related post.
Generally, the protocols dictated by the standing order include:
- Witnesses can appear and offer testimony remotely by phone or video conference. The court or a video conference service must initiate video conferences.
- The public may view remote court proceedings by utilizing a link to the connection. More information regarding public access is located under Section 1.11.
- Only the Court Reporter can record the virtual proceedings, unless the court has issued an order stating otherwise.
- Parties participating in remote court proceedings waive their right to be present in the courtroom and to physically present witnesses.
General Administrative Order 20-6 does not apply to the Asbestos Litigation Calendar (J1). Instead, the Asbestos Calendar has its own controlling administrative order. Asbestos Motion Calls will continue to commence every other Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. CST until further notice. Additionally, the Asbestos Litigation Calendar has provided Zoom information for Asbestos trial and motion calls.
Husch Blackwell summer associate Kelli Weiss contributed to this blog post.