Last week we discussed how to prepare Witness Lists according to Supreme Court Rule 213. This week we shall discuss the Court dates that must occur prior to trial. In addition to the Illinois Supreme Court Rules, Cook County has its own set of local rules. Pursuant to local rule 13.4, prior to trial, a case management conference must take place pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 218. Rule 218 states that the Court must hold a case management conference within 182 days after filing the complaint. The purpose of the case management conference is for the parties to confer on the issues of the case and to set the deadlines for trial exhibits, witness lists, and other discovery. At this conference, the parties also typically discuss how to simplify the issues for trial. One way to simplify the issues for trial is to stipulate, or agree to, a set of agreed upon facts that will not need to be proven at trial via testimony, documents, or other evidence.
Local Rule 13.4 also provides that, at the written request of either party or the Court, the Court may order the parties to appear for a pretrial conference. The purpose of a pretrial conference is to attempt to resolve the contested issues and settle the case prior to trial. Rule 13.4 provides that, at least 7 days prior to the pretrial conference, each party must prepare and deliver a pretrial memorandum to the Court. This pretrial memorandum lists the parties’ assets, liabilities, and settlement positions. At the pretrial conference, the Court will review the pretrial memorandum and the parties will discuss their respective positions with the Court. The Court will then provide its recommendations in the hopes of facilitating settlement between the parties.