Illinois Supreme Court Rule Amended to Allow Good Cause E-Filing Exemption for Self-Represented Litigants
Illinois Supreme Court Rule 9(c)(4) was amended to allow a good cause exemption to e-filing for self-represented litigants (SRL). The rule change is effective immediately for proceedings in the supreme court and appellate courts. For proceedings in the circuit courts, the amended rule is effective on Jan. 1, 2018.
The amended rule defines the good cause exemption, which must be shown by certification and filed with the court before or with an initial pleading, that exempts SRLs from the e-filing requirement. It also specifies the procedures that must be followed to properly obtain the exemption.
The rule change comes less than three weeks before electronic filing in civil cases will be mandatory across Illinois, and reflects the Illinois Supreme Court's commitment to ensuring access to justice for everyone, including vulnerable SRLs.
Under the amended rule, good cause exists where a self-represented litigant is not able to e-file documents for the following reasons:
- No computer or Internet access in the home and travel represents a hardship
- A disability, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, that prevents e-filing
- A language barrier or low literacy (difficulty reading, writing, or speaking in English)
- If the pleading is of a sensitive nature, such as a petition for an order of protection or civil no contact/stalking order
Judges retain discretion to determine whether good cause is shown, or if, under particular circumstances, good cause exists without the filing of a certificate.