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October 29, 2018

Dear Justice Corner:  I recently noticed that some self-represented litigants are using the statewide forms to submit briefs and motions relating to their civil appeal. However, many of the forms necessary to complete their appeal are not available on the AOIC's website.  Are there plans to develop additional statewide forms for civil appeals?

-- Judge Formforthat

Dear Judge Formforthat,

There are numerous approved forms published on the Illinois Courts’ website for use in all levels of our state courts. The current suite of appellate statewide forms available for use, which have been approved by the Illinois Supreme Court and must be accepted for filing are:  Notice of Appeal; Appellate Motion; Appellant’s Brief; Appellee’s Brief; Appellant’s Reply Brief; Petition for Rehearing; Certification for Exemption from E-Filing; and Application for Waiver of Court Fees.  A form suite includes not only the form an appellant or appellee will file, but also instructions about how to meet the procedural requirements of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules.

The Appellate Forms Subcommittee recognized the need to develop additional forms and has been diligently working on completing the entire suite of appellate forms in order to make them available for use by self-represented litigants. The draft appellate forms currently posted for public comment (until November 24, 2018) are:  Docketing Statement, Request for Report of Proceedings (Transcripts), Request for Preparation of Record on Appeal, and Bystander’s Report and Agreed Statement of Facts. To review these forms, please visit: http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Forms/drafts/default.asp. The public comment period is invaluable in ensuring the statewide forms are accurate and comprehensible to lay people.  As such, the Forms Committee encourages and welcomes all feedback on its draft forms. Once the public comment period has ended, the subcommittee will review each comment and consider whether to apply the change to the form.    

As you might be aware, all standardized forms are written in plain language and available in print and interactive formats. For purposes of e-filing, court patrons can choose to print and handwrite their forms, and then scan the document to upload into their chosen e-filing service provider (EFSP). Since all forms are fillable PDFs, patrons also have the option of typing directly into the form and saving it for upload into their chosen EFSP. Additionally, many of the statewide forms have been translated into several non-English languages and there are plans to translate many more forms this year. 

By way of background, statewide standardized forms came into being in November 2012, when the Illinois Supreme Court adopted Rule 10-101, Standardized Forms, and entered an Administrative Order to outline the process for developing, reviewing and approving standardized forms for use in Illinois courts. The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice's Forms Committee (comprised of eleven members) oversees the development of statewide standardized forms for use in Illinois Courts.  An Appellate Forms Subcommittee (comprised of six subject matter experts and AOIC staff) is charged with determining what forms need to be developed and then drafting those forms. Then, the AOIC Forms Officer conducts user testing with control groups to obtain feedback, which the subcommittee uses to amend the draft form. Once the draft is complete, it is sent to the Forms Committee for review, and the form is then published for public comment on the Illinois Courts’ website for a period of 45 days. During that period, anyone can provide feedback on the draft form through a “Submit Comments” button.  Each public comment is reviewed by the subcommittee and necessary revisions are made.  The form is then sent back to the Forms Committee for review and final approval. Prior to publishing, AOIC staff formats the form to make it a fillable PDF and ensures it is ADA compliant. The form is then published on the Courts’ website and available for public use.

Please email your questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, or stories about self-represented litigants to justicecorner@illinoiscourts.gov.
-Justice Corner, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice Court Guidance and Training Committee

  1. Chief Judge Michael J. Sullivan, McHenry County
  2. Presiding Judge Clarence M. Darrow, Rock Island County
  3. Presiding Judge Sharon M. Sullivan, Cook County
  4. Judge Jo Beth Weber, Jefferson County
  5. David Holtermann, Lawyers' Trust Fund, Chicago
  6. Joseph Dailing, Legal Aid Consultant, Rockford