Rules for remote court hearings approved in Illinois

The Illinois Supreme Court has approved rules to allow the expansion of remote participation in court hearings. These new and amended rules grant courts broad discretion to allow Remote Court Appearances.

According to the Illinois Supreme Court, courts should permit Remote Court Appearances to the extent reasonable, feasible, and appropriate to improve access to the courts, increase efficiency, and reduce costs.

New Rule 45 recognizes that telephone and video conferences can be used effectively and appropriately in other types of proceedings beyond civil cases. Rule 45 does not require a Case Participant to demonstrate hardship or good cause to appear remotely. Therefore, Remote Court Appearances under Rule 45 should be easy to request and liberally allowed, and courts should ensure that they have removed unnecessary financial and other barriers for Case Participants to appear remotely.

The use of Video Conferences for testimony in civil trials and evidentiary hearings may be allowed for good cause and upon appropriate safeguards under Rule 241 (and Telephone Conferences may be allowed in compelling circumstances for testimony). Court have wide discretion under both rules to allow Remote Court Appearances

This new Rule covers all non-testimonial court appearances and intentionally provides wider latitude for a court to conduct court proceedings remotely by allowing any case participant to request a remote appearance for any reason and by allowing a court to make that decision on its own even if no request has been made by a case participant.

Amended Supreme Court Rule 46 allows for recording of court proceedings by “stenographic means or by an electronic recording system, including video conferencing services, approved by the Supreme Court.” Rule 46 for the first time allows for the recording from video conference hearing to be used by the official court reporter to make the transcript that becomes the official record of the proceeding.