A Step in the Right Direction

The Illinois Supreme Court released a press release today announcing a plan for a unified efiling system throughout the state.

Chief Justice Robert R. Thomas and the Illinois Supreme Court announced Friday a
wide-ranging plan to build a technological infrastructure that would link electronically all the
courts in the state’s 23 judicial circuits and 102 counties.

Once completed, the plan would provide, among several features, a uniform system for
the electronic filing of cases and case documents in all of the state’s trial courts. It also would
bring together, under a uniform structure, other electronic business initiatives which the Court
has allowed previously.

The press release goes on to explain:

At the heart of the plan is the development of an Illinois Judicial Branch portal using web-based technologies. Just as a portal like Yahoo or Google provides access to a myriad of information, the Illinois judicial portal would provide a single point for access to a broad scope of case information collected from cases filed in all 102 Illinois counties. The initiative would not relieve judicial circuits of their record-keeping responsibility, but the portal would provide a central point of access to trial court information and a single system to distribute trial court data to federal and state entities.

“A critical component to the success of this project is the establishment of statewide technology standards that will allow the integration of the 23 judicial circuits’ information systems into a common link,” said Ms. Cobbs, the AOIC director. “The use of a central judicial branch portal, and the establishment of standards will ensure that Illinois’ use of technology to assist in the work of the courts is secure, uniform, and cohesive, rather than a patchwork of independent services.”

The AOIC has been working with several national vendors to identify technologies that would implement a database platform, a statewide network and associated standards to support the e-business initiative. Director Cobbs and her staff also will be working with the Chief Judges of the 23 circuits, as well as with county officials to plan and implement the initiative as seamlessly as possible.

This press release says all of the right things, however, I am troubled by the comment that:

Unlike the federal court system, in the Illinois trial courts, there is no uniform case management system and thus, implementing an e-filing system like the one that is utilized in the federal courts is not possible.

So, can they implement one unified system or not?

With respect to timing, the Court announced:

A time frame for full implementation of uniform statewide e-filing and other e-business is uncertain, but it is expected to be phased in over a period of three to five years. The cost of development will be funded through judicial branch resources, and other sources of funding will have to be identified as needed.

You can download a copy of the press release here.

This seems to be a step in the right direction. However, it appears a little sparse on the details. I am curious to see what their actual plans are. I know that I have been clamoring for efiling in Illinois. As much as I want to see it arrive, I also want to see it arrive in a form that benefits the practitioner.

For now, I will accept this announcement for the good news it appears to be.