The ideal standing order: What should be included?

At its meeting May 4, 2017, ISBA Bench & Bar Section Council Chair Justice Michael Hyman tasked Council members with developing a list of rules and procedures which should be included in a standing order in every Illinois trial courtroom. The Section Council arrived at these suggestions, which should apply to both lawyers and pro se litigants appearing before the Court.

Efficient Communications Between the Court and Attorneys

At the outset of each case, the judge should provide all counsel with an email address and phone number for his or her court clerk and advise the parties whether the judge also has a law clerk. Likewise, all attorneys should provide their email addresses, office phone numbers and cell phone numbers to the judge’s court clerk and to one another. That way, if the judge is running late or will be absent for a scheduled court call, the court clerk can notify the attorneys accordingly. And if an attorney is running late or is stuck in another courtroom, he or she can notify the court clerk and the other counsel of such.

Page Limits and Courtesy Copies

No later than one week prior to hearing on a contested motion (barring any emergency), the moving party shall provide courtesy copies of all briefs to the judge, preferably via email. There should be a 15-page limit on all briefs, absent leave of court.

Uniform Case Management Order and Effective Use of Pretrial Orders

A uniform Case Management Order should be adopted statewide, rather than the various types of Case Management Orders currently used in different courtrooms throughout Illinois.

Judges should actively use Pretrial Orders to make trials more efficient for both the Court and counsel. This includes narrowing the issues to be tried, exchanging witness lists and exhibits, and handling issues such as the authentication of documents well in advance of trial.

Efficient Use of Time by the Court and Attorneys

A rule should be implemented allowing attorneys to submit an Agreed Order to the judge three days before a case management or status hearing. If the judge concurs with the Agreed Order, he or she will enter the Agreed Order and either email it to counsel or instruct counsel to pick it up from his or her courtroom at counsel’s convenience. This way, attorneys will not have to appear in court for an Agreed Order and the judge can focus his or her time on contested matters. If the judge does not concur, his or her clerk should notify counsel that they must appear in court for the scheduled hearing. In the alternative, the judge should schedule all agreed matters at the start of his or her call, or on a separate call, followed by contested motions on which the Court will hear argument.

Hearings and Rulings on Motions

When scheduling a hearing, the judge should inform the parties whether he or she will rule orally or in writing so that the parties can determine whether they should bring a court reporter. Judges should provide counsel with reasons for their rulings, whether verbally or in writing. In addition, judges should be proactive in managing hearings by: (a) imposing and enforcing a time limit on oral arguments for contested motions; (b) instructing counsel that they may not make objections during oral argument; and (c) advising counsel that they may not interrupt opposing counsel during his or her argument.

Courtesy and Civility

Judges shall instruct lawyers appearing before him or her that they should direct their comments to the judge, not to one another. In addition, lawyers should be prohibited from handing each other pleadings or cases when they appear in court, as this should be done in advance of a court appearance, according to applicable rules.

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June 2017Volume 47Number 11PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)