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Illinois Supreme Court Announces Changes to Make Court Costs More Manageable

The Illinois Supreme Court announced today several changes to the assessment system by which fees, fines, and other court costs are paid by civil and criminal case litigants.

These changes are a result of Public Act 100-0987, which was passed by the legislature in 2018 in order to simplify the imposition, collection, and distribution of court assessments. The changes include Civil Assessment Schedules as well as fee waivers in amended Rule 298 and new Rule 404.

The changes are effective July 1, and the new assessment structure, not including the waivers, expires Jan. 1, 2021. 

Changes to the assessment system were proposed by the 15-member Statutory Court Fee Task Force, a bipartisan body of judges, retired judges, legislators, circuit clerks, and members of the private bar from across the state. In a wide ranging study, the task force found that a large number of filing fees on litigants in civil cases and court costs on defendants in criminal cases result in excessive financial impact on citizens, particularly those near poverty. It was additionally discovered that assessments could be significantly inconsistent from county to county even for the same type of proceedings.  

The amendment to Rule 298 expands the existing civil fee waiver provision to allow partial waivers for litigants who may not qualify for a full waiver. New Rule 404 creates similar full and partial fee waivers for criminal defendants. More information is available online.

The Civil Assessment Schedules streamline the current statutory fee provisions into a framework of fee schedules identifying the maximum amounts which can be assessed in each civil case category. County boards will implement the fee amounts according to the new schedules. 

Posted on February 13, 2019 by Rhys Saunders
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