Part 4.00 Residential Eviction Mediation Program
The purpose of the Residential Eviction Mediation Program ("Program") is to (1) alleviate the burden and stress on tenants, landlords, homeowners, and homeowner associations caused by residential evictions; (2) foster direct and meaningful communication and negotiation between the parties to a residential eviction; (3) provide an expeditious means of resolving residential eviction disputes and, where reasonable and possible, to provide an alternative to eviction; (4) prevent the backlog of residential eviction cases pending in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit; (5) keep families in their homes, where reasonable and possible, or provide families that are unable to remain in their homes with a reasonable means and timeframe for vacating their homes; and (6) reduce the negative impact of residential evictions on Lake County residents, neighborhoods, and communities.
Mediation is intended to be non-adversarial in nature. The role of the court-appointed mediator assigned to your case will include, but is not limited to, assisting the parties in identifying the issues, identifying resources which may be useful to either of the parties, exploring settlement alternatives, and helping the parties reach an agreement to avoid the expense and consequences of a trial.
- Mediation Program Coordinator refers to the person or persons authorized by the Chief Judge to administer the program.
- Mediator refers to a person approved by the Presiding Judge to conduct a mediation.
- Presiding Judge refers to the Presiding Judge of the Civil Division.
- Program refers to the residential mediation program.
7-4.03 Filing Fee, Costs Charged, Sustainability Plan
After the effective date of this Rule, an additional filing fee of $75.00 shall be charged to residential eviction cases filed in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit. This additional fee shall be placed in a “Eviction Mediation Program Fund” [“Fund”] which shall be used to provide financial support for the mediation program, including to reimburse mediation program start-up costs paid prior to the time the program becomes self-sufficient as a result of the filing fees authorized herein. No other costs will be charged to any program participant. It is contemplated that the program will be sustained as needed and be self-sufficient as a result of the filing fee.
7-4.04 Cases Eligible for Referral to Mediation
- Parties in all residential real estate eviction cases filed in the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit are eligible for mediation so long as one party is a self-represented litigant, possession is still at issue, and so long as the demand notice is based on non-payment of rent or non-payment of fees in condominium or home-owner association cases.
- Parties that have previously been referred to mediation and failed to participate or that have previously participated in mediation but failed to reach an agreement are not eligible to be referred to mediation in the same case.
- Commercial evictions are not eligible for mediation.
- Notwithstanding the above, the Court has discretion to refer any residential real estate eviction case to mediation at any time on the Court's own motion.
- On the first court date after all the Defendants have been served with service of process, the Court will refer eligible cases to the program. The Court will then set the matter for status of mediation at least thirty days later.
- Once referred to the program, the Plaintiff's attorney shall email to the mediation program coordinator within five days the court order referring the case to mediation that contains the Plaintiff's and the Defendant's contact information. In cases where both the Plaintiff and Defendant are self-represented litigants, both the Plaintiff and Defendant shall email or mail the program coordinator, within five days of being referred to mediation, their respective contact information.
- The mediator will then contact the parties to schedule a mutually agreeable day and time to conduct the mediation. Each party shall respond within 3-5 business days to the mediator’s request to set a mediation date. The parties shall make their best efforts to be available to conduct the mediation as soon as possible after the Order of Referral.
- At the conclusion of the mediation, the mediator shall draft a report indicating the parties' agreement, that the parties were unable to reach an agreement, or that one or the other parties failed to participate in the mediation.
- The mediator shall provide each party with a copy of the mediator's report and shall e-file the same with the clerk of the court.
- All mediation agreements are binding. If the parties enter into an overriding or additional agreement after the mediation it shall be in writing, signed by both parties and is subject to Judges’ approval.
7-4.06 Appointment, Qualifications and Compensation of the Mediators
- Mediators shall be assigned by the Program Coordinator, who shall maintain the schedule of cases set for mediation and the assigned Mediators.
- The Coordinator shall maintain a list of Mediators who have been approved by the Chief Judge. The Coordinator shall also provide the Chief Judge Mediator performance statistics and make recommendations about a Mediator’s continued service with the Program.
- Any person is eligible to apply to serve as a Mediator for the purposes of this Rule, if the applicant is:
1. A member in good standing of the Illinois bar or a retired judge,
2. Submits an application that is approved by the Chief Judge or their designee; and completes the established training procedures. Once the training is complete the mediator will be assigned a mentor.
3. Provides satisfactory proof of professional liability insurance covering the mediation process to the Coordinator.
- The Coordinator must be provided documentation concerning any changes relating to professional licensures, and concerning any changes in professional liability insurance covering the mediation process.
- The Mediator shall comply with such general standards established and promulgated in writing by the Chief Judge. Mediators shall comply with the Uniform Mediation Act, 710 ILCS 35/1 et seq. as amended. A Mediator shall not mediate a matter that presents a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest arises when any relationship between the Mediator and the mediation participants or the subject matter of the dispute compromises or appears to compromise the Mediator’s impartiality. A Mediator shall not be involved in any capacity other than Mediator in any case to which the Mediator is assigned. A Mediator may not use any information obtained during the mediation process for any purpose outside of mediation unless required to do so by law.
- The eligibility of each Mediator to retain the status of a Mediator shall be periodically reviewed by the Chief Judge or their designee for mediation of eviction cases, and in any event, no longer than eighteen months after date of appointment. Failure to adhere to standards set forth above may result in the removal of the Mediator by the Chief Judge.
- There shall be no charge for the parties to participate in the residential eviction program. The mediators shall be paid on a per mediation basis in an amount approved by the Chief Judge as funds allow.
All mediation communications as defined in 710 ILCS 35/2(2), other than executed settlement agreements, shall be exempt from Discovery and shall be confidential and inadmissible as evidence in the underlying cause of action as provided in the Uniform Mediation Act, 710 ILCS 35/1 et seq. and as amended. Subject to the foregoing, the Mediator may not disclose information obtained during the mediation process, unless required to do so by law.
Mediators and other program participants shall be entitled to such immunity as may be provided by law.
7-4.09 Cooperation with the Program and Sanctions
All participants shall always cooperate with the Mediator, including appearing promptly as directed for mediation, communicating as directed, and engaging in appropriate behavior at all times. Additionally, sanctions may be imposed on the court’s motion.
7-4.10 Mechanism for Reporting to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts
- The Clerk of the Circuit Court shall record the results of mediation in the appropriate Court record in cooperation with the Mediation Program Coordinator. The Mediation Program Coordinator shall also maintain statistics indicating the number of cases referred to mediation and the results of the mediation process and shall provide this data to the Presiding Judge of the Civil Division and the Judge hearing eviction cases to facilitate review by the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit of the effectiveness of the program.
- Any information or data retained by the Court shall be provided to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts at such times and in such manner as may be required.
7-4.11 Termination or Suspension of Program
The Chief Judge may, at any time, suspend or discontinue this program.