WOODSTOCK – In a victory for the legal community, the McHenry County Courthouse now offers electronic filing for legal documents in civil cases, making it the sixth county in Illinois to do so.
Electronic filing allows attorneys or pro-se litigants, or those who represent themselves, to file legal documents over the Internet, rather than in person or through the mail.
Particularly pleased with the development were out-of-county attorneys, or “runners” on their behalf, who in the past would have to make a trip to the courthouse in Woodstock just to file their legal documents – oftentimes to be met with long lines.
“It certainly is a benefit to be able to sit at your desk and not send somebody running over to the courthouse,” said John Donahue, an attorney from the Chicago law firm Rosenthal, Murphey, Coblentz and Donahue. Donahue represents the village of Fox River Grove, among other municipalities.
But perhaps no one was more delighted with the new system than Circuit Clerk Kathy Keefe.
“It makes the court system much more efficient in the long run,” she said. “More efficient for the court, more efficient for the users of the court, and ultimately it will save the taxpayers money as it simplifies our workload.”
E-filing will streamline the process in the Circuit Clerk’s Office when accepting filings, entering the data, and storing the court documents. The McHenry County Circuit Clerk’s Office files and scans more than 550,000 documents annually, Keefe said, and with the manual scanning process, it sometimes can take several days before documents are available for viewing. E-filed documents are available within minutes, she said.
Since the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court began offering e-filing earlier this month, local attorney Steven Brody probably has filed the most documents, Keefe said.
“I’m taking steps out of the process,” Brody said. “It’s faster, it’s easier, it’s more convenient, it can be done 24/7.”
Still, some attorneys are eyeing the day when legal documents can be filed electronically in criminal cases. Maybe someday, Keefe said, adding that it took some time for the Illinois Supreme Court to approve the civil program here.
“Filing electronically on criminal division cases has not been approved,” Keefe said. “Now that they have the policies in place for civil division, the criminal can’t be too far off.”
E-filing is open to those who register with I2File, a secure system currently being used by DuPage, Will and St. Clair counties, and by the 2nd District Appellate Court and Illinois Supreme Court.
The annual support and maintenance cost for I2File is about $15,000 and will be paid for from the Circuit Clerk’s Court Automation Fund, which is funded by court fees.