Save Judicial Resources: Eliminate Orders for Alias Summons

BY ROBERT G. MARKOFF & STEVEN A. MARKOFF

Judges contemplating how to resume their court calls should consider the following: Cease granting orders permitting the issuance of alias summonses. Instead, set a specific time period for the plaintiff to obtain service. If service is not effectuated after one year, dismiss the case without prejudice. Setting cases for status (even by email or Zoom hearing) when there is no service, is a major waste of judicial resources and the time of judges, court clerks and attorneys alike. It is a function of little value to anyone and does not aid in the administration of justice. The legal authority for this suggestion is based upon our Code of Civil Procedure and Supreme Court Rules. 735 ILCS 5/2-201(a) governs forms of process and states “…the issuance of alias process…shall be according to rules.” Supreme Court Rule 103(a) governs an alias summons. It directs court clerks to issue an alias summons upon request of any party. Nowhere in the Code or Rules is there a requirement for a court to grant permission to issue an alias summons. In fact, one could argue that local court rules requiring permission to issue an alias summons violate the Supreme Court Rule on point. Given the great backlog courts will face when reopening, this will help with initial case flow while ultimately allowing judges to keep their caseload numbers down. Cook County’s First Municipal District is one of the few courts in the state that does not require court permission to issue an alias summons. This has allowed their courts to focus on matters “at issue” or “in default.” Periodic slaughter calls efficiently clean up the docket, specifically unserved cases and matters resolved without entry of a dismissal order. Imagine the countless hours that could be saved if judges implement this proposal and eliminate unnecessary court appearances and orders.

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