Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0616
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Full Text of HR0616  102nd General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, On March 17, 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court
3issued an emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic by
4allowing Illinois courts to establish and update, as
5necessary, temporary procedures, including the use of remote
6technology, to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on the court
7system while continuing to provide access to justice; and
8    WHEREAS, In May of 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court
9adopted the "Illinois Supreme Court Policy on Remote Court
10Appearances in Civil Proceedings" to allow and encourage the
11broad use of remote court appearances; and
12    WHEREAS, The subsequent development of a vaccine and
13fluctuating changes in COVID-19 numbers allowed the resumption
14of in-person court hearings periodically throughout the
15pandemic but on a sporadic and county by county basis; and
16    WHEREAS, The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC)
17issued a report in March of 2021 entitled "Due Process in the
18Time of COVID" that examined the use of remote technology on
19the ability of lawyers to represent children in conflict with
20the law; and
21    WHEREAS, The NJDC report, based on interviews with lawyers



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1representing children in 38 states, concluded that "the shift
2to technology-based communications and remote hearings
3threatens young people's constitutional rights, including
4fundamental aspects of effective legal representation, due
5process, and access to courts"; and
6    WHEREAS, The NJDC report also found that "the pandemic has
7magnified the disparate treatment of youth of color in the
8delinquency system and the disproportionate danger youth of
9color face due to their overrepresentation in facilities and
10the system as a whole"; and
11    WHEREAS, The NJDC report cautioned that the "findings
12raise serious concerns about the future operations of juvenile
13courts once the pandemic subsides...Technology-based
14communications have caused significant barriers in client
15communication and access to counsel"; and
16    WHEREAS, The NJDC report finds that "every person accused
17of a crime has a constitutional right to be present at hearings
18in which their participation may affect the outcome"; and
19    WHEREAS, Privacy concerns and technological challenges
20with the use of remote conferencing technology has a chilling
21impact on confidential communication between the attorney and
22the client during hearings; and



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1    WHEREAS, In interviews conducted by the Juvenile Justice
2Initiative with six children who were sentenced to juvenile
3prison in the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice
4resulting from Zoom court hearings, the children were
5concerned when speaking with their lawyers through remote
6technology that their statements would be overheard by another
7person, such as counselors or correctional officers, who may
8be just outside the room where they were teleconferencing; and
9    WHEREAS, Remote conferencing limits the capacity of an
10attorney to ascertain the true level of comprehension of the
11legal process by their juvenile client; and
12    WHEREAS, Virtual hearings limit the capacity of children
13to convey emotion and read subtle cues and gestures; and
14    WHEREAS, Virtual hearings dehumanize children; and
15    WHEREAS, A report from the Brennan Center for Justice
16(Brennan Center) entitled "The Impact of Video Proceedings on
17Fairness and Access to Justice in Court" highlights some of
18the negative impacts of remote hearings; and
19    WHEREAS, The Brennan Center report includes a study of
20Cook County's early use of remote technology in felony bond



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1hearings, beginning in 1999, where defendants participated in
2bond hearings through closed-circuit television; and
3    WHEREAS, The study of over 645,000 Cook County felony bond
4hearings between 1991 and 2007 concluded that the average bond
5amount was 51 percent higher when the hearing was virtual and
6that some cases saw increases of as much as 91 percent in bond
7amount; and
8    WHEREAS, The study, along with a class action lawsuit,
9caused Cook County to voluntarily return to live bail
10hearings; therefore, be it
13we urge the Illinois Supreme Court to exercise its authority
14to require courts throughout Illinois to responsibly
15transition hearings conducted under Article V of the Juvenile
16Court Act of 1987 back to in-person hearings with priority to
17those hearings where liberty interests are at stake; and be it
19    RESOLVED, That we urge the Illinois Supreme Court and the
20Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) to
21exercise a rights-based approach when weighing the impact of,
22and determining policy on, remote court appearances,



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1especially those under Article V of the Juvenile Court Act,
2focusing primarily on protecting children's rights to
3in-person participation and confrontation, including the
4benefits of children being able to meet with their lawyers in
5person prior to and after court hearings; and be it further
6    RESOLVED, That we urge the Illinois Supreme Court and AOIC
7to work to ensure that court policies, processes, and
8procedures implemented to protect the health and well-being of
9youth involved in the justice system do not infringe upon
10their access to counsel and their right to a fair trial; and be
11it further
12    RESOLVED, That we understand that with the possibility of
13COVID-19 variants or another significant public health crisis
14there may be times when the Illinois Supreme Court deems it
15appropriate to transition to virtual hearings for the purpose
16of protecting the health and well-being for all court hearing
17participants but that the use of remote technology shall be a
18last resort for as short a time as possible and all efforts
19should be made to ensure children have their lawyers
20physically present during virtual hearings, especially in
21cases where liberty interests are at stake.