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Illinois Rules of Evidence Adopted

Trials in Illinois are now conducted in accordance with the Illinois Rules of Evidence. Prior to these rules, the admissibility of evidence at trial was governed by common law case decisions. The new rules correspond with the same-numbered Federal Rules of Evidence which have long been in place.

 

Jurors May Ask Questions at Trial

The Illinois Supreme Court approved new Rule 243, which allows jurors to submit written questions to witnesses at trial. Following completion of the examination of a witness by counsel, the judge will meet with the attorneys and then decide to allow, modify or exclude the proposed questions. This practice has taken place with success in federal court trials by giving judges and attorneys insight into the jury’s thought process, as well as keeping the jurors actively engaged in the case.

 

Mandatory E-Filing in Civil Cases

As of January 1, 2016, all filings in DuPage County cases are required to be submitted electronically. DuPage County is the first county in Illinois to be approved for mandatory e-filing in civil cases; it is available, but not required, in Cook County. In addition, it was recently announced that e-filing will be required in the Illinois Supreme Court and all five Appellate Court Districts effective on July 1, 2017, and in all circuit courts effective on January 1, 2018.

 

Judicial Standards on Restrictive Covenants in a State of Flux

The many factors impacting the issue of enforceability of restrictive covenants in employment agreements has long been analyzed and decided by Illinois courts. In the First District Appellate Court’s 2013 decision, Fifield v. Premier Dealer Services, Inc., 2013 IL App (1st) 120327, it appeared that a bright-line rule had been established that two years of sustained employment was sufficient consideration required for an employer to enforce a restrictive covenant. Since the Fifield decision, however, no fewer than eight state and federal court decisions have treated the issue in conflicting ways, with the analysis focusing on various factors and not the Fifield bright-line rule. The Illinois Supreme Court has yet to weigh in on and clarify this important issue.