by Scott Tzinberg, Principal, Law Offices of Scott Tzinberg
On September 6, 2022, the Cook County Domestic Violence Division expanded its availability in which one can request an emergency civil order of protection. Victims can now appear in domestic violence court on weekends and overnights during the week to request an emergency order of protection.
This expansion program is the result of a committee assembled by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans in an effort to improve court access for domestic violence victims who may not be able to seek relief during normal business hours. The committee included several attorneys and judges, including Acting Presiding Judge Judith Rice of the Domestic Violence Division and former Presiding Judge Grace Dickler of the Domestic Relations Division.
The procedure for petitioning for an emergency civil order of protection during the expanded hours is slightly different than during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, 8:30a.m. – 4:30p.m., excluding court holidays). Here are some common questions and answers that will assist parties who may need relief from the court during these expanded hours.
Q. What are the expanded hours for domestic violence court?
A. Currently, the expanded hours are Monday – Friday, 9:00 PM – 3:00 AM and Saturday/Sunday, 1:00 PM – 6:00 PM.
Q. Is the Court in-person or remote?
A. All proceedings during the expanded hours will be remote on Zoom.
Q. What relief can one seek during the expanded hours?
A. Currently, only emergency civil orders of protection are available during the expanded hours. For other relief, such as a stalking no contact order, civil no contact order, workplace protection restraining order or firearms restraining order, one must still pursue that during normal business hours (Monday – Friday, 8:30AM-4:30PM).
Q. During the expanded hours, how does a victim of domestic violence prepare and file the Petition for Order of Protection and how does the Petition then get to the judge who will hear the Petition?
A. For after-hours’ filing, the person seeking the Order of Protection should do the following:
2. Read the information on the home page to understand what information you will need to get the paperwork prepared.
3. After reading all the information on the home page, you can then start preparing the petition for order of protection. To do so, scroll down until you see this:
Click on “Start Program” and this will initiate a process to allow you to input specific information (page by page). This information will then be incorporated into the paperwork for the court and judge.
4. When all the requested fields are complete, you will then submit the information and be taken to a new page. On this new page, the following options will appear:
First, you should download the forms and review them for accuracy. If you need to make a change, click “Edit Your Answers” and once you update your responses, click “Save Your Answers”. Once all is final and you are ready to proceed to court, click “Email Your Form(s) to the Court/Agency”. You will then be prompted to reenter your email address and click “Send”. This will send the paperwork to a court clerk on duty who will review and file the paperwork and you should receive immediate email confirmation that your forms were submitted.
Once the Clerk has processed the paperwork, typically within the hour, you will receive notification (by email or phone call) from court staff providing you with a time to appear and the Zoom credentials to use so that you can appear before a judge and request the Order of Protection.
If you submit the paperwork during operating hours (M-F, 9pm-3am or Sat/Sun, 1pm-6pm), a judge will be available to hear your case the same day you submit everything.
If you submit outside of these hours, or are unable to attend the Zoom hearing the same day, you will have the following options. Within 48 hours of forms submission:
Contact the Presiding Judge’s Office (312-325-9000) during regular business hours to schedule a hearing – please mention “after-hours” forms submission and have your case number and parties’ names handy.
Or, contact a Connections for Abused Women and Children (CAWC) domestic violence advocate at (773) 278-4566 during expanded hours for assistance in rescheduling your remote hearing during a subsequent after-hours session.
5. At the time provided, sign on using the Zoom credentials you were provided. This will take you before the judge on duty who will then hear the Petition for Order of Protection.
Q. What if I am unable to access the internet or cannot fill out the forms correctly online?
A. If you are having difficulty getting online or using the system to prepare your paperwork, you can connect with a domestic violence advocate during the expanded hours. The advocates are from CAWC and can be reached at (773) 278-4566. The advocate on duty will work with you to get the matter before the Judge.
Q. What if I need an interpreter? Will one be provided?
A. If an interpreter is required after-hours, the judge on duty will have access to the Language Line, a telephone-based service that can provide a remote interpreter of any language.
Q. Can I obtain a transcript of the proceedings?
A. Yes, all after-hours proceedings will be recorded and later transcribed upon request.