The Illinois Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission (ATJ Commission) and the Circuit Court of Cook County have partnered on a new Remote Video Pilot program. The program will allow individuals to appear for cases remotely in three different divisions of the Cook County Circuit Courts. The pilot was launched on December 2, 2019 and will run through November 30, 2020.
This news is in line with the Illinois Judicial Branch Strategic Agenda. The strategic goals for the judicial branch include embracing technology to deliver timely and efficient court services.
“We believe using technology to broaden the ways litigants and attorneys are able to appear in court will reduce barriers some face in participating in their court case and improve judicial efficiency overall,” said First District Appellate Court Justice and ATJ Commission Chair Mary K. Rochford in a press release announcing the Remote Video Pilot program.
Two judges from each of the Chancery, County and Domestic Relations Divisions will oversee the use of remote video in their courtrooms. The Chancery Division will use remote video for contested mortgage foreclosure cases on two calendars. The County Division will use it for mental health proceedings, such as a mental health case management call one day per week or when a party is in a different county or state. The Domestic Relations Division will use remote video for one individual calendar status call and one individual post-decree call.
“As we look at ways to enhance access to justice in civil cases, video appearances will allow litigants to agree to participate in court in a convenient way,” said Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans in a press release. “For example, a litigant in a foreclosure or divorce can download an application on a cellphone and appear in court on a break from work. For mental health proceedings, the judge may visit multiple hospitals in one day via video conferencing, as opposed to traveling to each facility to hold court. Doctors and health-care staff may address the court from their offices, saving them the time it takes to travel downtown.”
Data collected during the Remote Video Pilot program will determine the practicality of expansion throughout Cook County and statewide.
Illinois Supreme Court Rules 185 and 241 allow for remote appearances.
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