By Joanne R. Driscoll
Forde Law Offices LLP
While the advent of electronic filing has extended the time deadline within which jurisdictional filings can be made – from the end of business until 11:59 p.m. – counsel’s failure to allow enough time for uploading the filing before midnight can result in disastrous consequences.
In Peraino v. County of Winnebago, 2018 IL App (2d) 170368, decided on March 30, 2018, the Illinois Appellate Court, Second District, dismissed an appeal for lack of jurisdiction because a post-trial motion to reconsider the granting of a summary judgment motion was stamp-filed 12:03 a.m. on January 4, 2017. The motion for reconsideration was due on January 3, 2017.
On January 5, 2017, the plaintiff moved in the circuit court for leave to file his motion to reconsider nun pro tunc to January 3, 2017, contending that the I2File website would not upload his post-trial motion at 11:58 p.m. on January 3, 2017. The circuit court denied the motion, citing to local rule 22.01(N) (17th Judicial Cir. Ct. R. 22.01(N) (July 25, 2016)) and to provisions in the Illinois Supreme Court’s Illinois Electronic Filing User Manual (Ill. S. Ct., M.R. 18367 (eff. Feb. 3, 2014)) directed at technical failures experienced during electronic filing. The circuit court found neither rule applied because there were no technical defects in the software or electronic filing system, only user problems. The plaintiff appealed.
The appellate court dismissed the appeal, sua sponte, for lack of jurisdiction because the plaintiff’s failure to file a timely post-trial motion meant that his notice of appeal was due within 30 days of the summary judgment order (January 3, 2017), and the plaintiff did not move the appellate court for leave to file a late notice of appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303(d) (eff. Jan. 1, 2015). The appellate court also vacated the circuit court’s order, holding that the circuit court lost jurisdiction to consider the plaintiff’s request to backdate his motion to reconsider. Although not pivotal to its decision, the appellate court agreed that “technical failures” referenced in electronic filing rules pertain to the malfunction of the court’s hardware, software or telecommunications facility; it does not include the failure of the user’s equipment.
All may not be lost to the plaintiff, however, as the appellate court suggested one alternative still available – to request supervisory or other relief from the Illinois Supreme Court.