New State Supreme Court Policy Allows More Electronics in Courthouses

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 7, 2022 at 9:37am

Courthouses in Illinois can now allow more electronic devices inside thanks to a new policy by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The new policy, which was announced this morning, requires every state courthouse to adopt individual orders or rules on the use of portable electronic devices in their courthouse buildings and courtrooms.

Chief justice Anne M. Burke said in the announcement that “the courts must adapt with the times, and this is an important way to address the needs of court users.”

The Court says in adopting the policy, it recognizes that devices such as cell phones, computers, tablets, e-book readers are essential tools of today’s society. And that many courthouses already possess policies that address the needs of lawyers, jurors, and other court users and staff to possess portable electronic devices in courthouses, yet some bar members of the public and self-represented litigants from carrying their devices.

Burke says “it’s no longer realistic to ask people to leave cell phones and other electronics at home when they visit courthouses.” The new policy acknowledges that portable electronic devices are often necessary for court users to access resources, conduct court business, accomplish procedural steps, and present evidence or arguments in cases.

The new policy allows for individual courts to address any security issues by allowing restrictions on the use of portable electronic devices in the circuit court’s local orders or rules. Courthouses will need to provide free storage for the equipment should the use of devices be restricted.

Courts will be required to post signs with information about their portable electronic device policies prominently in the courthouses, including at the entrances, in the clerks’ offices, and outside each courtroom. This information must also be publicized on the courts’ and clerks’ websites and in other publicly available places.