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  • September 27, 2021 9:00 AM | Anonymous member

    Cook County Circuit Court's GAO 2020-07 (eff. 9/24/2021), was recently amended to update section 9(d) stating, "[e]ffective October 5, 2021, outside of the court's regular business hours on weekdays, weekends, and holidays, petitions for emergency protective orders shall be heard by the on-call judges assigned to hear said petitions; to schedule a hearing on a petition for an emergency protective order, a petitioner, advocate, or attorney shall call (toll free) 1-877-863-6338 (Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline).

    Take note of the specific documents and forms. If they are not included with a petition for an emergency protective order, it will not be considered complete. A copy of GAO 2020-07 can be found in our member Resource Center.

  • September 27, 2021 8:13 AM | Anonymous member

    From: CBSChicago

    A computer breach on the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s website, first exposed by CBS 2 a month and a half ago, is finally fixed.

    CBS 2’s Jackie Kostek is always investigating, and asking why it took so long and what’s being done to make sure it never happens again.

    Kostek spoke to the executive clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk’s office, and he admitted that the past six weeks were as troubling and frustrating for their team as it was for lawyers and the public who couldn’t access their case information online. He said the landing page is working again, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

    Attorney Robert Kezelis said seeing the court clerk’s website back up and running wasn’t so much a surprise, “more like a huge relief.”

    That’s because, for nearly six weeks, lawyers and the public were unable to access critical information about their cases online.

    “I immediately started checking out my cases to make sure I’m not missing any dates, or having a case dismissed on me, or having another problem,” he said.

    CBS 2 was the first to expose what the clerk’s office said was website maintenance on Aug. 13 was actually a breach. So why did it take nearly six weeks to get the site up and running again?

    “We had to actually acquire updated software, acquire updated platforms, run and update security so that the website is a more secure website than before we came into office,” said executive clerk Patrick Hanlon.

    Hanlon said the clerk’s administration had been in talks about redesigning the website before the breach, but prioritized updating its case management system, something ordered by the Illinois Supreme Court.

    “Illinois Supreme Court wants us to have it done by year end,” he said.

    Hanlon said that deadline has meant the clerk’s office is now working on two parallel projects at once – restoring functionality to the existing website, and integrating the case management system so that all case documents can be accessed remotely by the public and lawyers.

    “Sometimes you’ve just got to rip off the Band-Aid,” Hanlon said.

    So is Hanlon confident what they’re building now will be able to withstand 21st century cyber threats?

    “Breachers are breachers, but I do believe that we have the security in place to be … to rely on that confidence,” he said.

  • September 23, 2021 3:26 PM | Anonymous member

    From: Cook County Chief Judge

    Highly offensive documents, falsely claiming to be orders from various current or retired Circuit Court of Cook County judges, are being circulated by some person or group, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans said on Wednesday. The documents are forgeries, and the Office of the Chief Judge finds the content appalling. The documents appear to be intended as a means of intimidating the recipients and others.

    The documents use the names of several sitting and retired judges out of the Skokie Courthouse.

    “I’m indignant over this blatant attack on the judiciary,” Judge Evans said. “By falsely attributing abusive and racist comments to Circuit Court of Cook County judges, it impugns their hard work and integrity and may create a dangerous situation.”

    The Niles, Morton Grove, Skokie, and Evanston police departments, as well as the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, are investigating. The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office also have been notified. The Office of the Chief Judge is fully cooperating with law enforcement authorities to discover who is circulating these fraudulent and disturbing documents.

    The Office of the Chief Judge asks that anybody who receives a copy of one of these fraudulent documents contact the police.

  • September 21, 2021 8:00 PM | Anonymous member

    From: American Bar Association

    Although there is no specific data on paralegals, if the attorneys with whom we work are experiencing mental health issues at a greater rate, it would stand to reason that paralegals and legal support staff are subject to the same concerns. 

    Mental health is always a relevant topic, but the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of self-care, support and awareness needed to maintain good mental health. The ABA’s Commission on Lawyer’s Assistance Programs has provided a number of mental health resources for legal professionals that may be helpful during these challenging and unpredictable times.

  • September 21, 2021 7:09 PM | Anonymous member

    From: American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals

    Professor Tom McClure, the Chair of the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Paralegals, recently published a blog on the ABA website presenting his vision for the Standing Committee. He offered six goals for 2021–2022.

    First, the Committee should encourage more states to adopt the Model Guidelines for the Utilization of Paralegal Services. So far, 12 states and seven state bar associations have adopted versions of the guidelines.

    Second, the Committee should update the process for conducting post-pandemic site visits of paralegal education programs by building on the experience of virtual site visits conducted during the pandemic.

    Third, the Standing Committee should advocate for Lawyers’ Assistance Programs (LAPs) to provide services to paralegals. LAPs are not-for-profit organizations that provide a variety of mental well-being services to lawyers, judges, law students, and their families concerning substance abuse or stress-related issues. Paralegals often experience similar challenges and would benefit from receiving LAP services.

    Fourth, the Standing Committee should recognize outstanding pro bono efforts provided by paralegals and paralegal education programs.

    Fifth, the committee should increase its efforts to educate states, contemplating licensing Limited Legal Professionals, about ABA-approved paralegal education programs.

    Sixth, the Standing Committee should collaborate with entities within the ABA as well as national paralegal organizations to achieve common objectives.

  • September 15, 2021 6:59 PM | Anonymous member

    From: IL Supreme Court

    The Illinois Supreme Court announced the impending launch of a Court-Based Rental Assistance Program (CBRAP) available to tenants and landlords across the state (outside of Cook County) starting on September 15.

    Cook County will be operating its own court-based rental assistance program slated to launch in early October with direct funding from the federal government.

    The Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS) has allocated approximately $60 million to the CBRAP, which is only available to litigants in eviction court. Litigants may qualify for up to 12 months of past due rent and 3 months of future rent to prevent eviction and homelessness. Unlike other rental assistance programs, the CBRAP will allow for expedited processing and will have a designated phone number for individual court employees to call and ask questions about the court-based program. It is intended that this program will act as a safety net for litigants who are on the brink of eviction. As a condition of receiving rental assistance (from the CBRAP as well as the other rental assistance programs), landlords agree not to evict the tenant for nonpayment of the rent that is repaid. Additionally, new Order M.R. 30370 requires all summons issued in residential eviction cases to include an attached notice regarding the CBRAP. 

  • September 14, 2021 7:00 AM | Anonymous member

    From: Chief Deputy Clerk, Law Division

    The clerk's office is reporting that the Law Division will be going live with the new Odyssey case management system in mid-October 2021. Once the system is live, parties will be able to remotely access Law Division case dockets and images via the CCC Portal.  Once the entire office is live on Odyssey CMS, parties will be able to remotely access case dockets and images from every Illinois Clerk of Court throughout the State via research IL, the PACER-type system selected by the Illinois Supreme Court. 

  • September 13, 2021 7:00 AM | Anonymous member

    Effective September 13, 2021, all residential eviction summons must include a notice about Court-Based Rental Assistance. A sample notice is available in our Member Resource Center. Be sure to also check with your local court because they may have additional required information (for example, Cook and Winnebago counties).

  • September 12, 2021 7:00 AM | Anonymous member

    From: 2Civility

    It’s time to check and see if you’re using the correct court forms. Over the past several weeks, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice (ATJ Commission) has announced updates to several court forms, as part of its annual review or in response to law or rule changes.

    And, due to the Court’s recent website update, the web addresses for all court forms have changed. Make sure to check any form links on your website to ensure they’re directing users to the correct place.

    Please implement these updated forms immediately and discontinue the use of the previous versions.

  • August 30, 2021 12:14 PM | Anonymous member

    From: IL Supreme Court

    The Illinois Supreme Court announced an amendment to Order M.R. 30370 which extends the temporary stay on certain residential eviction trials and dispositive motions to September 18. The previous order was set to end on September 1. 

    The amended Order also includes provisions that exempt cases where rental assistance is clearly not viable and there is no reason to delay trial. Courts are to generally defer to the rental assistance programs for eligibility determinations, only substituting their own assessments when the matter is clear and free from doubt. The order also permits landlords to challenge the veracity of a tenant’s declaration.

    Currently, the Governor’s moratorium on residential evictions continues to bar the enforcement of certain eviction judgments through September 18, 2021. 

    Amended Order M.R. 30370 is available in our member Resource Center.

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