As of January 1st, 2018, The Illinois Supreme Court has required all documents in civil cases to be eFiled for cases in the Supreme, Circuit, and Appellate court. Even though eFiling has been live in Illinois for over a year, there are still many aspects to learn to avoid rejected paperwork.
Generally, the very first document filed in an appellate court is the Notice of Appeal. For this article, we will not focus on what you are appealing, just the procedures of filing the Notice of Appeal to avoid receiving a rejection notice from the appellate clerk.
To assist paralegals working on appeal cases, the Illinois’ Appellate Lawyers Assocation’s “A Guide to Illinois Civil Appellate Procedure” is a must-have. According to the Appellate Lawyer’s guide, “Supreme Court Rule 303(c) requires the appellant to file in the appellate court a copy of the notice of appeal (or notice of interlocutory appeal) that was filed in the circuit court and to serve the notice of filing and notice of appeal on the other parties generally within seven days of filing the notice of appeal in the circuit court.”
The experienced paralegal, as directed by the attorney, files a Notice of Appeal in the circuit court – for example, Cook County. The court’s eFiling system automatically sends notice to all parties, and the paralegal also serves the notice electronically, by email, to all parties.
After a couple of days determining if the paperwork is accepted, the Cook County clerk sends the notice of appeal to the appellate court. Then, the appellate court clerk opens a case and assigns it an appellate case number. Once the paralegal receives the appellate case number, they can eFile the Notice of Appeal and a Notice of Filing in the appellate court.
The paralegal attaches a certificate of service/proof of service to the Notice of Filing, to show how and when the parties were served, following Illinois Supreme Court Rule 11(c), to demonstrate that the parties were served electronically.
Because this is a new case, there are no other service contacts (contact information for the opposing party) yet. To avoid rejected papers, it is best to state in the certificate of service/proof of service that the parties are being served by email (more on this and avoiding rejection in the next section). Until the other party/attorney has filed their appearance, the appellate court’s eFiling system would have no record of any other service contact.
Practice Tip: Tyler Technologies, the company that manages the Illinois court’s eFiling manager system, recommends that users only add themselves, or another member of their firm, to the service contact list.
Screenshot of the Proof of Service part of the form Notice of Appeal approved by the Illinois Supreme Court and required to be accepted in all Illinois Appellate Courts.
On more than one occasion, paralegals and attorneys have received rejection notices of their Notice of Appeal from the appellate court clerks. In one instance, as shown in the screenshot below, the rejection reason given was “per rule 11c in the manner of serving documents you must file and serve the other party through the eFile system. Also, you must note on the proof of service that you serve the other party via the court’s electronic filing system (whichever you use) along with [the] email address. Reject Reason: Absent or Improper of Proof of Service.”
It seems it is the language in the certificate of service/proof of service that is causing the appellate clerks to reject the filing.
To avoid a rejected filing, be sure that your certificate of service/proof of service includes language reflecting which eFiling service provider you use, i.e., “Notice of Appeal was filed via the courts electronic filing system using CourtFiling.net, an approved electronic filing service provider, and via email to each of the parties listed.”
As always with eFiling in Illinois, processes and procedures can change at any time and without notice, so please give yourself plenty of time to eFile and if you have any questions, never hesitate to call the clerk’s office.
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