If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again may be the slogan best applied to some of the Supreme Court Rules in 2013. A tweak here, a tweak there, and eventually lawyers and judges will run out of suggestions to the Rules committee (You think? I don’t). In general, the Supreme Court Rules changes can be divided into groupings this year.
The internet is here to stay: The Court is ready for the future
Rules 2, 12, 13, 104, 110, 131, 132, 137, 181, 187, 191, 216, 277
We are going paperless! “Paper Document” and “Paper(s)” are now “Document(s).” The word paper is gone.
Merry Christmas Eve from the court as the Justices made it clear they were working! The advent of the internet and e-filing leads to identity theft which the court is still addressing. While recognizing the need, implementation is not so easy as first imagined. Therefore the Personal Identity Information rule amendments moved the applicable date for omitting birth dates and minor’s names to Jan. 1, 2015. Earlier in the year, right before the July 4th holiday, the court had pushed the effective date of the rule to January 1, 2014. Before that, the rule was slightly changed June 3rd.
In the most recent version, the court clarified that when January 2015 arrives, only birth years, initials for minors, and the last four digits of informational numbers (driver’s license, bank accounts, credit cards, etc.) are to be used in public filings. The party will need to file the actual data along with a “Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing” that the Clerk will impound. This impounded information must be updated as account numbers change (presumably birth years will remain constant). The rule allows attorneys to use un-redacted sets on institutions that need the entire name or numbers, recognizing that an employer or bank may want a birth date, social security number, and other identifying information before following a court order.
Clerk responsibilities: the amended rule sets out that the clerk may tattle to the court if a clerk notices non-compliance, but it is not the clerk’s job to check the filings and point out errors in compliance to anyone. When someone does notice failure to comply and files a motion asking the court to order redaction, the clerk must impound the motion and put the potentially offensive document in purgatory (i.e. away from public access) until the court rules. If granted, the old document is impounded and the new redacted one is placed for public viewing. So redact them in the first place and avoid the second round of filings!
The only change to Rule 216 is one of those that makes me happy, but granted I may be among the few who care. “He” has been changed to “the party.” Thank you.
Paperless applies to jury instructions, too. The court is serious that its website is the place to go for the most current information so that attorneys will stop saying: “I didn’t know there was a new IPI. It is not in my book.” The rule now reminds you that the most current version of IPI Civil instructions is on the website and that the IPI instruction “shall be used, unless the court determines that it does not accurately state the law.”
Who let you in here? The Court
allows for attorneys to come and go
Rule 707: You can join the whole case even if you are not from Illinois
The impact on practice of the change in Rule 707 actually took the requirement of reviewing petitions from out-of-state attorneys to practice law in Illinois on a case-by-case basis out of the court and sensibly placed it with the ARDC. Once an out-of-state attorney files a statement with the ARDC and has an active status Illinois attorney also enter an appearance, then the out-of-state practitioner may appear in court, in an arbitration proceeding, or before an administrative tribunal. The forms and fees are on the ARDC Web site.
Limited Scope Representation: Multiple rules allow counsel to assist litigants within a case
Rule 13: Attorneys can now file limited scope appearances in civil proceedings when the attorney has a written agreement to provide limited representation. Attorneys must withdraw as required by the rule, too. In point of fact, attorneys may dive in and out of the same case based upon their written agreements with the client so long as a new Notice of Limited Scope Appearance is filed so that other parties can keep track of whether the attorney is in the case or out, or for what subjects or hearings. A withdrawal should specify the “out” times. And the court promises not to say: “Either go out or come in, but make up your mind,” as your mother used to do when you were a child going in and out of the house slamming the back door! The forms are in the rule.
Rule 11: When an attorney enters an appearance for limited scope representation, that attorney is added to the service list; the original party litigant continues to get a copy too. When the limited scope attorney is done, then that person can be removed from the service list. Basically, the original litigant gets everything.
Mortgage Foreclosure Rules: Enough already, the court is setting the rules
Mortgage foreclosure actions filed after May 1, 2013 (originally March 1, but a later amendment pushed the date back to May), require an Affidavit of Amounts Due and Owing. Further, notice must be sent when an Order of Default and Judgment of Foreclosure is entered. And when a surprise occurs and the judicial sale nets more than is owed, notices and petitions dealing with those surplus funds must be filed. The forms are in the rule.
Loss mitigation forms must also be filed prior to moving for a foreclosure judgment where the plaintiff identifies the efforts taken to assist the mortgagor. The forms are in the rule.
Fortunately for practitioners, the changes in Civil Supreme Court Rules issued in 2013 were not major. Remember the internet is changing the practice of law. Remember that attorneys are encouraged to consider limited scope representation and can find the forms in the rules. And remember that the housing crisis is not over yet. Most importantly, remember to check the court’s Web site regularly! ■