Tips for Preparing and Participating in a Virtual Court Proceeding in the
17th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois
In order to facilitate court activities the judges of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois may host court proceedings in a Virtual Courtroom via Zoom or other platform. Zoom is a video communications platform for video and audio conferencing.
You currently have two options to join remotely:
- Go to Zoom.us (Chrome works best)
Select “Join Meeting” in the upper-right-hand corner
Enter Meeting ID, which is a series of numbers, and provided by the court
- If you cannot log on through a computer or smart phone, please dial any of the numbers below from a phone:
Enter Meeting ID, followed by # when prompted.
- Parties must have enough battery for the entire court session and have a charger readily available.
- Have enough data and/or Wi-Fi.
- Keep the phone dial-in information close by in case you experience unforeseen technical difficulties.
- You should dress "smart casual," which is best described as what someone would wear at dinner with their parents.
- Be in a quiet area with minimal background noise.
- Check the lighting. Light from a window behind you might blind the camera, making you look dark. Light above you in the center of a room might also cast shadows. Ideally, position a lamp, or sit facing a window, where light is directly on your face.
- You should practice Zoom Meeting functions, and familiarize yourself with your internet, video, and audio capabilities prior to the hearing.
- You can test your equipment here: https://zoom.us/test
What to Expect
When you join a Virtual Courtroom, you will wait for your case to be called in a virtual waiting room. There may be several cases set on the docket at that time. When your case is called, the court will bring you into the Virtual Courtroom.
Because the Zoom app works on all modern smart phones, tablets and computers, each attorney is expected to appear by video, rather than merely by voice.
When you enter the Virtual Courtroom, your video will automatically be on and your audio muted. Please remain muted unless you are speaking, and unmute your microphone before you speak. On a computer you will see a microphone on the bottom left of the screen. It will have a red line through it when you are muted. Below, the microphone is muted.
Remember to speak one at a time, and to pause prior to speaking in case there is any audio/video lag. Be sure to state your name before you begin speaking.
Your screen name should reflect your title and legal name. Include your office if it will help identify you. You may customize your name a number of ways.
- From the Virtual Courtroom, click on the “Participants” icon at the bottom of the window. A Participants window will appear. Hoverthe mouse over your name until you see “More.” Click “More.” Click the “Rename” button. Enter your new name in the “New Screen Name.” After clicking the blue “OK” button, your new name will appear.
- On a smartphone, launch the Zoom app and select “Participants” at the bottom of the screen. Tap on your current name to open the editing menu, then choose Rename. Enter your new name in the “New Screen Name.” After clicking the blue “OK” button, your new name will appear.
- If you have a Zoom account, you can customize your user profile, including your Screen Name preferences.
You are responsible for ensuring your witness(es) have the information necessary to appear.
Witnesses should plan to appear on video. Witnesses will be called as any case, and the court will bring them in one at a time from the waiting room.
Witnesses are only permitted in the Virtual Courtroom while they are testifying. Those testifying are not to hold notes or paperwork while testifying, just as though s/he were on the witness stand.
Witnesses may be asked to answer questions posed by the Court, the Plaintiff/Petitioner, and/or the Defendant/Respondent.
Once a witness is done testifying, the witness will leave the Virtual Courtroom and should not talk to anyone about his or her testimony until after the conclusion of the hearing.
Exhibits, plea papers or anything the judge would need to review at the virtual hearing must be exchanged between the parties and shared with the Court prior to the hearing. To share with the Court, you may either e-file and name the document as "Virtual Hearings Exhibits," or deliver paper copies to the Court Administration Office no less than 3 business days in advance of the virtual court appearance.
Note that the Family Division (Domestic Relations, Family, Adoptions, Orders of Protection as they pertain to domestic relations proceedings) has issued specific requirements relating to Exhibits for a virtual hearing. (See General Order 4.08.)
Proposed Orders resulting from previously held Virtual Courtroom proceedings shall be submitted pursuant to Local Rule 8 and e-filed. It is helpful to include the date of the hearing that the order resulted.
In Winnebago County, you should be prepared to receive a notice back from the Circuit Clerk’s Office that it is “rejected” but that it is being printed for judicial review. Once approved and signed by the Judge, it will be re-scanned and entered into the Case Management system.
In Boone County proposed orders will be accepted through e-filing. This will result in the e-filer getting a copy of the accepted document but it will not have a file stamp on it. The clerk route the proposed order to the appropriate Judge and when the order is signed, it will be processed by the clerk and e-filed back through Tyler to the attorney.
Recording the Hearing
You are reminded of the prohibition against photographing, recording, and rebroadcasting of court proceedings (See General Order 1.09). Recording the proceeding is not allowed by anyone except the Official Court Reporter or the approved recording system. A violation of either of these rules constitutes contempt of court. A transcript of the proceedings may be requested by completing and submitting a Transcript Request Form:
Winnebago County Transcript Request Form
Boone County Transcript Request Form
Interpreters may be requested pursuant to Local Rule 2.16. The Interpreter Request Form is available here: https://forms.wincoil.us/InterpreterRequest. Please be sure to include the Meeting ID you received from the court in your request.
Public Access to Proceedings
Proceedings that are publicly accessible will continue to be publicly accessible. At this time, the Judge will be present in the courtroom assigned to him or her. Proceedings may be streamed online here.
Scheduling a Virtual Proceeding
Step 1: File both Motion and Notice of Hearing.
When e-filing, ensure the word “VIRTUAL” is in the title of the document.
(When e-filing, ensure the words “VIRTUAL PROVE-UP” is in the title of the document if you also specifically seek a final hearing for Dissolution of Marriage or Civil Union. See General Order 4.08 for a list of documents to be submitted in advance of the hearing, and the procedure to submit those documents.)
File your Notice of Hearing, to include VIRTUAL as the Courtroom.
The Clerk will return the Notice of Hearing stamped with a Meeting ID and a link for more information on Virtual Hearings.
Step 2: Provide notice to the other party(ies). Send a copy of your Motion forms to the other party (Motion and Stamped Notice of Hearing) and file proof of mailing.
General Order 4.08 - Procedures for Virtual Hearings - Family Division
Illinois Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission - Zoom Instructions for Phone and Computer
Illinois Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission - Zoom Instructions for Phone and Computer (Spanish Version)