Post Authored By: Alexandra M. Verven

The anxiously anticipated General Administrative Order (“GAO”) 20-9 was released by the Cook County Law Division on December 17, 2020. The 42-page order is loaded with information and this blurb serves to highlight what Chicago litigators need to know.

First and foremost, all jury trials set from March 17, 2020, through June 30, 2021, are converted to trial setting dates, at which time the case will be assigned a trial date at least 60 days out. This means parties will have approximately 90 days to prepare for trial.

Second, more cases will be subject to the mandatory pre-trial requirement, namely those that were set for jury trial in the first half of 2021. This marks the third round of cases being assigned for Active Case Management, i.e., to a trial judge. Notices of reassignment are projected to be sent out on or before January 15, 2021, so be on the lookout. Within 5 days of receipt of the notice, the plaintiff’s attorney is to email the newly assigned judge a service list with cc to all parties of record. Now is a great time to make sure your service list is up to date. Thereafter, the assigned judge will schedule a remote status conference within 15 days of receiving the service list.

Third, for the cases just now being assigned for Active Case Management, the deadline to complete all outstanding discovery is June 30, 2021, with the plan of that being the trial certification date. For those cases working under the March 31, 2021, discovery completion deadline, the only way to extend that deadline is to bring a motion before the Presiding Judge of the Law Division who has the sole discretion whether to grant the extension. If granted, it will be up to the Active Case Management judge to set forth the specific discovery schedule and make sure the parties are prepared to meet the final discovery deadline.

Fourth, by now everyone knows that traditional hearings of motions are not taking place in Cook County. No longer are the days where we “appear before the Honorable Judge, or any judge sitting in his or her stead in the courtroom usually occupied him or her” to present the motion. In the times of the pandemic, the parties are to “electronically submit the attached motion to the Honorable Judge via email address.” To make matters easier, GAO 20-9 requires that the notice of motion now include additional language specifying the date/time (suggested one hour after submission) for the non-moving parties to respond or object to the motion with cc to all parties therein. Even more, the notice of motion is also to mention that “if no response or objection is emailed before 4:00 PM on the date set forth above, the Court will rule on the Motion and enter an order.” This specific language can be found in Section 3.4 of GAO 20-9. While we may hope to “see you in court,” for now, this is the process by which parties are to submit motions and have them heard.

About the Author:

Alexandra Verven is an associate attorney with the law firm of Barker, Castro, Kuban & Steinback LLC. Alexandra has concentrated her practice in the area of medical negligence serving in the defense of hospitals, physicians, and medical staff members. Her medical malpractice defense work involves pre-litigation investigation and counseling, as well as guidance and recommendations to her clients in various risk management strategies. She also handles a wide variety of civil defense litigation where she represents not-for-profit organizations and health care facilities in cases involving premises liability and personal injury. Prior to joining Barker, Castro, Kuban & Steinback LLC, Alexandra worked as a law clerk at one of Chicago’s prevalent plaintiff litigation firms, where she gained invaluable experience she uses to defend her current clients.