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Administrative Office Divisions - Court Services

(217) 785-2125 (Springfield Office)

Todd A. Schroeder, Assistant Director

The Court Services Division is organized into multiple working groups (the Courts, Children and Families Unit; the Program Unit; and the Recordkeeping and Technology Unit) and is involved in a diverse and wide range of activities and projects affecting judges, circuit clerks, court administrators and other components of the judicial branch of government. The Division is responsible for staffing a variety of Supreme Court committees, Judicial Conference committees, and the Conference of Chief Circuit Judges. The Division also serves as the primary liaison for the Supreme Court’s Peer Judge Mentoring Program, Judicial Performance Evaluation Program; and processes circuit court requests for a judicial assignment outside the circuit, as well as requests for the reimbursement of claims for persons subject to the Sexually Violent Person’s Commitment Act.

In 2016, Program Unit staff assisted the First Judicial Circuit and Macon County in the 6th Circuit in developing and implementing a Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program, pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 99 and 99.1. On a regular basis, staff continue to monitor all courts’ submission(s) of mediation program data, statistics, or financial sustainability plans and respond to all requests submitted regarding mediation programs. Oversight and support of all Mandatory Arbitration Programs, including the guidance and collection of arbitration program statistics, also continues to rest within the Program Unit responsibilities.

Since 2009, the unit has assisted each of the 23 circuits with the development and annual updates of Emergency Preparedness-Continuity of Operations [EP-COOP] Plans for each county, to safeguard the court record, preserve access to justice, and ensure the safety of court users and staff in the event of a catastrophe or disruption. In 2016, the Supreme Court mandated each of the five districts comprising the Illinois Appellate Court to submit EP-COOP plans. Program Unit staff assisted each appellate district with the drafting and development of each plan, which have been approved by the Court.

The Program Unit continued to maintain the list of Court Disability Coordinators for all circuit courts in the state and serve as a liaison to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office with regard to circuit court inquiries about disabilities and accommodations. Additionally, unit staff was invited to work with the State of Illinois Capital Development Board in amending and updating the Illinois Accessibility Code, which ensures that state facilities, including courthouses, are safe and readily accessible to, and usable by, environmentally limited persons. Lastly in 2016, the unit reviewed a request for a waiver from the Supreme Court’s Minimum Courtroom Standards regarding courthouse construction in the First Judicial Circuit.

The Courts, Children and Families Unit (CCFU) manage the programmatic and fiscal components of three grant awards (Basic, Data and Training) included in the federally-funded statewide Court Improvement Program (CIP). The CCFU works to support the mission, vision, and core values of Illinois’ CIP of ensuring safety and stability for children and families involved in child abuse and neglect proceedings. In 2016, the CCFU continued to develop the foundation and infrastructure for improved court practices in child protection cases by concentrating its efforts on the six pillars of Illinois CIP and programming: the Statewide Legal Representation Initiative; Judicial Training; The Child Protection Data Courts Project; Child Protection Circuit Teams; Child-Wellbeing and Collaboration with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Also in 2016, the National Center for State Courts approached the AOIC about participating in a four state initiative called the Reimagining Dependency Courts Project with the goal of improving time to permanency for children placed in foster care. The AOIC participated in an assessment phase in five pilot court sites and now has moved to the planning phase, developing action steps to address barriers to timely permanency in Illinois.

Statewide Legal Representation Initiative: The CCFU has focused efforts on improving outcomes by enhancing the effectiveness of legal representation in child abuse and neglect cases. Projects funded under the Legal Representation Initiative in 2016 include: the Family Advocacy Clinic at the University of Illinois School of Law for the representation of parents and children in juvenile abuse and neglect cases in Champaign County, the Juvenile Justice Clinic at Southern Illinois University providing guardian ad litem services for minors in juvenile abuse and neglect cases in Jackson County, the Winnebago County Guardians ad Litem Project, a project, aimed at quality enhancement and development of best practice models in GAL representation.

Judicial Training: The CCFU is committed to developing and maintaining an effective system of training and technical assistance for judges that preside over child abuse and neglect cases. CIP Training funds were used to provide scholarships for five juvenile judges respectively to attend the annual National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) Child Abuse and Neglect Institute. Additionally, the CCFU assisted in the development of juvenile related session during the 2016 Judicial Education Conference, including a full-day seminar on the effects of trauma on youth in the child welfare system.

Child Protection Data Courts Project (CPDC): Through the CPDC Project, the CCFU continued to collect and analyze child protection court performance measures, demographic information and case characteristics in child abuse and neglect cases. Currently, nine counties collect CPDC Project data. The CPDC project sites track case demographic information as well as 18 of 30 nationally recognized child protection court performance measures. The project sites are implementing action plans developed, by each county, based on performance measure data that includes a project initiative with goals, action items, responsibilities and timelines, and outcome measures.

Child Protection Circuit Teams (CPCTs): The CCFU is involved in a multi-year engagement strategy to engage Child Protection Circuit Teams (CPCTs), to promote local coordination between courts and child protection stakeholders. The CCFU continues to fund projects and trainings developed by CPCTs.

Child Well-Being: CCFU staff continues to fund projects aimed at improving child well-being specifically focusing on trauma, educational issues, LGBTQ youth in care and substance abuse.

Collaboration with the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services (IDCFS): In 2016, the CCFU continued its’ working relationship with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services by assisting with the title IV-E federal review and the first annual IDCFS Transformation Summit. In addition, the AOIC works closely with IDCFS on several initiatives aimed at improving time to permanent placement for youth in care.

The Recordkeeping and Technology Unit (RTU) provides an array of guidance and technical support services to circuit clerks and their staff throughout the year. RTU staff, as members of the Illinois Association of Court Clerks Oversight Board, continues to work with the Association in developing educational programs for circuit clerks and their staff, as well as coordinating the Circuit Clerk Mentor Program. The RTU also monitored the filing of the circuit clerks’ annual financial audits, updated the Applicable Legal Requirements, and distributed the Requirements upon request.

RTU staff worked to facilitate development of E-Business programs in Illinois’ circuit courts as they continued to expand throughout 2017 in anticipation of mandatory e-Filing in civil cases, effective January 1, 2018, the Supreme Court, the five Appellate Districts, and 96 circuit courts were live, prior to the mandate, on the Supreme Court’s Electronic Filing Manager (EFM), the statewide e-Filing solution eFileIL. The remaining six counties will be transitioned to the EFM throughout 2018; however, the circuit court must provide a mechanism for electronic filing documents in civil case types in the interim as of January 1, 2018. In May 2017, the Supreme Court entered an order permitting electronic filing of criminal felony, misdemeanors, and driving under the influence cases through the EFM, effective July 1, 2018. In support of electronic filing, the Supreme Court authorized the new Supreme Court Rule 9, effective July 1, 2017, which provides clarification on exemptions, timely filings, and requirements. The Rule allows a self-represented litigant to present a certification for a good cause exemption from the requirement to electronically file. In addition, the Court announced the development and implementation of a statewide system called re:SearchIL to be fully implemented by July 1, 2018, which will allow case information and documents to be obtained from any county by a single sign-on.

Four counties were approved to accept electronic pleas of guilty in accordance with the Standards for Accepting Pleas of Guilty in Minor Traffic and Conservation Offenses Pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 529, bringing the total to 59 counties of 102 in the state. The RTU continued to assist the Conference of Chief Circuit Judges’ Ad Hoc Committee on Article V Rules. In 2017, the Article V Committee recommended approval to authorize statewide implementation of electronic citation programs for the Overweight, Civil Law, and Uniform Citation Forms. Counties are now authorized to implement the use of an electronic citation form, without prior approval, provided the citation form meets the requirements contained in the applicable printing instructions. The Article V Committee also proposed updates to Article V of the Supreme Court Rules regarding electronic signatures and multiple citations requiring court appearances in late 2017.

The RTU provided merged jury lists and Petit and Grand Jury Handbooks to all 102 counties, as requested. The unit continued to manage the Offense Code Table (OFT), which identifies offenses reported to four state entities through the Automated Disposition Reporting (ADR) Program. An updated version of the OFT was issued in June 2017. Version 2.0 of the Fines and Fees Manual (FFM) was released effective July 1, 2017; the FFM contains more than 300 statutory citations and Supreme Court Rule references regarding the collection and distribution of fines, fees, penalties, restitution, assessments surcharges, and costs that may be applied to any case in Illinois. The RTU also completed and published the two-volume 2016 Annual Report from the collection and compilation of quarterly caseload statistics and annual reports submitted by the clerks of the circuit, appellate, and supreme courts, and other divisions of the administrative office. In the compilation of these reports, the RTU facilitates, collects and manages quarterly case statistics and annual financial data from all court clerks in the state. An updated version of the Supreme Court’s General Administrative Order on Recordkeeping in the Circuit Courts was released effective April 1, 2017. Included in the release is the designation of the electronic record as the official court record. This update will facilitate circuit clerks’ transition from paper records to an electronic court file, complementing the electronic filing program. During the past year, the RTU continued to assist the Civil Justice Division with the data collection related to Self- Represented Litigants (SRLs), parties with Limited English Proficiencies (LEPs).

The announcement of the Illinois Judicial College was officially released May, 2017, effective July 1, 2017. Under the direction of the Board of Trustees, the Supreme Court designated six standing committees to coordinate and deliver continuing education to various judicial branch groups. RTU staff served as an advisor to the Committee on Circuit Court Clerk Education. The inaugural Judicial College Convocation was held in October 2017 where members from all six committees participated in informational and training sessions focused on development of needs assessment tools.