The Journal of The DuPage County Bar Association

News Items

The DuPage County Law Library Welcomes You by Azam Nizamuddin
(FROM JANUARY 2015 PAGE 16)

Let’s say you’re at the courthouse and don’t have time to return to the office, but need to do some legal research on some cases or a particular statute before your hearing which starts in 15 minutes. Of course, you can always take out your tablet or iPad and go online to check your legal sources.

But if such technical gadgets are not at your disposal, what can you do? Fortunately, the second floor of the Courthouse at 505 S. County Road houses the DuPage County law library which puts a treasure trove of legal resources at your disposal.

The Law Library includes computer terminals for general use as well as for checking email, sending documents and browsing the web. Printers and copiers are also available, along with free Wi-Fi for smart phone and tablet users.

While the DuPage County Law Library is open to the general public, and many people utilize its services, it is also a useful and efficient space for lawyers to do legal research. It is also a quiet place to catch up on reading legal periodicals or newsletters. The public often looks to the library staff for quick resolutions to complicated questions. The staff directs them to seek legal practitioners through the referral service, find answers at the Clerk’s office or other areas of the courthouse as appropriate. The Law Library is overseen by a friendly staff including a Director, a law librarian and a technical assistant.

I have often approached Elizabeth Cooper, the Director of the Law Library, for a variety of legal issues over the years. Elizabeth graduated from University of Wisconsin Law School and is familiar with terms and concepts such as a Rule 23 Opinion, legislative history, administrative regulations, federal reporters, and statutes annotated.

The law library provides both electronic legal tools as well as hardcopies of publications such as as IICLE binders, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the Illinois Bar Journal, and of course the internationally acclaimed DCBA Brief, along with other periodicals in most areas of the law.

Elizabeth and her staff said that the legal community seems to be unaware of many of the electronic legal services now available to lawyers for legal research. Electronic databases provide free access to both Lexis and Westlaw. That’s right, free! The Westlaw subscription includes access to all 50 states, law journals and topical legal treatises. For family law practitioners, electronic terminals provide access to Finplan and Gitlin on Divorce. For those practicing consumer protection, there is an entire series published by the Consumer Law Institute.

The Law Library also provides regular Westlaw training sessions, and sessions on researching legislative history. Additionally, it has a comprehensive and user friendly website that provides further information about legal databases, legal research websites, and a list of useful legal apps for smartphones and tablets. All of these resources can all be found at http://www.dupageco.org/lawlibrary/ 

Feel free to contact or make inquiries of the staff at the DuPage County Law Library at lawlibrary@dupageco.org. 




Supreme Court to Allow E-Filing in Criminal and Traffic Cases by Steven D. Mroczkowski
(FROM NOVEMBER 2014 PAGE 9)

On October 14, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court announced that it has amended its standards and principles on e-filing to allow Illinois trial courts to start e-filing court documents in criminal and traffic cases.

In its press release, the Supreme Court indicated that this expansion of e-filing should be of great benefit to counties that are considering implementing an e-Traffic Citation program. The amended standards would eliminate the need for counties to transmit paper copies of traffic citations.

E-filing began in Illinois in 2002 under the Supreme Court’s limited pilot program that allowed electronic filing of civil case court documents. In 2012, The Supreme Court terminated the pilot program and announced statewide standards and principles for e-filing. Since e-filing began, the Supreme Court has approved civil e-filing in eleven counties: Cook, DeKalb, DuPage, Kendall, Lake, Madison, McHenry, Montgomery, Moultrie, St. Clair, and Sangamon. The Supreme Court’s announcement came following a request by DuPage County to allow e-filing in criminal cases. According to DuPage County Court Clerk Chris Kachiroubas, approximately 78% of all cases filed in the County are traffic and criminal cases.

Allowing e-filing of criminal and traffic cases may increase cost benefits and prompt more counties to implement e-filing programs. The amended e-filing standards require court review of documents that do not comply with format restrictions filed by pro se litigants and incarcerated defendants before they are rejected. Further, no filing or vendor fees will be assessed to anyone with pending criminal or traffic cases.

The amended standards and principles are consistent with the overall expansion of e-filing in Illinois. E-filing exists at the Supreme Court level as a pilot program and several counties are participating in pilot programs available to litigants and appellate justices for cases on appeal.

* For more information, contact Joseph Tybor, Director of Communications to the Illinois Supreme Court at 312-793-2323 or jtybor@illinoiscourts.gov*




Pilot Program Allowing Call-In Appearances Relies on Technology, Seeks to Promote Convenience, Access to Justice
by Steven Mroczkowski
(FROM NOVEMBER 2014 PAGE 11)

The next time that you are in courtroom 2007 for a hearing, don’t be surprised if you hear, but do not see, all of the litigants with cases on Judge Bonnie Wheaton’s call. On September 15, 2014, Judge Wheaton launched a pilot program in partnership with Court Call, LLC that allows litigants to appear by telephone for agreed orders, uncontested matters, routine status hearings, case management conferences, and motions of course, unless otherwise ordered by the Court.*

Since 1995, Court Call, LLC has been providing its Remote Appearance Program to various courts across the country in an effort to facilitate convenience and cost savings. The equipment that makes the Remote Appearance Program successful is simple and familiar. The litigant seeking to make a remote appearance only needs a telephone. The participating courtroom is equipped with a conference phone receiver and microphones. Judge Wheaton requires that remote appearances must be arranged no later than 10:00 a.m. on the court day preceding the hearing date, or with leave of Court.* A litigant seeking to make a remote appearance makes arrangements online at www.courtcall.com, or by calling 1-888-882-6878. After locating the participating court and providing case and litigant information, Court Call, LLC sends a confirmation to the litigant that contains call-in instructions, the call-in number, and the call access code. The fee for each remote appearance is $60.00.

On the day of the hearing, the participating litigant dials the call-in number five minutes before the scheduled hearing time, enters the access code, and then waits until the participating court accesses the call. The pilot program functions on Court Call, LLC’s Operator Assisted Platform. A Court Call, LLC representative is on the line for the entire duration of all calls on a particular day. The representative acts as a telephone clerk and has open lines of communication with litigants and the participating court. Thus, if the court has not yet accessed the call, the representative communicates this information to litigants. Or, if the judge needs to take a brief recess, the representative can communicate directly with the judge and all holding litigants to advise them of the recess.

So far, Judge Wheaton has experienced positive results with the pilot program. All equipment has been functioning as expected, calls were clear, and there have not been any technical glitches. The pilot program is not confined to a specific time period, and Judge Wheaton hopes that it will eventually become a permanent component of her courtroom procedure. At this time, Judge Wheaton does not believe that any amendment of the Local Rules is necessary to implement and use the Remote Appearance Program.

Judge Wheaton hopes that the implementation of the pilot program can further several objectives.

It can confer a benefit on attorneys and their clients by reducing travel and wait time for hearings. Remote appearances can also benefit courthouse staff by reducing entry and security backlogs at court entrances, and can reduce the total number of people in a courtroom at a given time making it easier to keep order.

Finally, Judge Wheaton hopes that the use of the pilot program can make justice more accessible and affordable to all litigants.

Judge Wheaton is not alone in her desire to use technology to increase convenience and efficiency in the court system. According to Court Call, LLC, at least one courtroom in Hancock, Knox, Peoria, Tazewell, Kane, Winnebago, McHenry, and Kendall Counties is taking advantage of the Remote Appearance Program.

The pilot program may expand, but at this time is only available in Judge Wheaton’s courtroom. So, for your cases pending in courtroom 2007, there is no need to fear the next Snowmaggedon or unexpected traffic jam. Try Court Call, LLC and let technology do the commuting for you.

* Judge Wheaton’s Complete Rules governing the pilot program can be accessed at http://www.dcba.org/news/187222/Remote-Telephone-Appearances-through-CourtCall-LLC-ourtCall.htm  or by visiting courtroom 2007 and requesting a copy.

 
 
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