Charging filing fees for the answer and not the entry of appearance

Many courts say the following:

  • We charge for the Entry of Appearance, not the answer...
  • ...but we can only charge the first attorney a litigant hires.  So after the first entry of appearance, we don't charge for them.  

But charging for the Entry of Appearance rather than the answer is problematic for several reasons:

Problem 1: The court has to check for a previous Entry of Appearance (EOA) before collecting any filing fees for an answer. If there was a previous EOA (e.g. the answering attorney was hired after another attorney withdrew), the court has to override and not collect the filing fees.

Problem 2: Since there is no Entry of Appearance for a pro-se litigant, the court has to remember to override and charge filing fees for an answer if it was filed by a pro-se litigant.

Problem 3: Although he was unwilling to say that it''s wrong to charge for the EOA, Dan Mueller has pointed out that statutes indicate that the filing fees are on the answer. While it's true that part (e) of 705 ILCS 105/27.1a indicates that the clerk may collect fees fees for the “Appearance” of a litigant, the AOIC's knowledge of the history of that statute makes clear that "appearance" actually refers to the answer. Specifically, the previous version of the statute (27.1), said “Answer or Response.” rather than "Appearance". Then, at some point, the legislature made the current statute (27.1a) by copying from 27.2 which applied only to Cook. Unfortunately, Cook County's term for an answer is “Appearance”. Note also that the statute does not say "Entry of Appearance".

Option 1: Charging for the answer rather than the EOA naturally solves Problem 3.  But it also solves the other two problems:

Problem 1 -determining the appropriate filing fee is simpler: rather than having to check whether there was a previous EOA when an answer is being filed, the court can "mindlessly" charge a filing fee on answers. 

Problem 2- if the fees are on the answer, the court doesn't have to remember to override and charge pro-se litigants for the answer instead of the EOA.

Option 2: Continue charging for the "first document which shows up, from the client's first attorney".  While this approach misses an opportunity to considerably streamline the filing process by eliminating Problems 1 & 2,, Judici can be set to routinely require that Clerk staff verify filing fees on all EOAs and Answers.