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URBANA — Your doctor and dentist already do it. Now your circuit clerk can, too.

That is, remind you of your upcoming appointment — or in this case, court date.

Champaign County Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman announced Thursday that people who have court cases in Champaign County may now receive text or email reminders of their next court dates by filling out a form at champaigncircuitclerk.org.

“We are thrilled to finally be able to offer a simple reminder system for court participants. This project has been a goal of mine for years, and I am so glad we were able to make it available now, when it is even more beneficial,” Blakeman said. “At a time when court dates may be changed more frequently than usual, the ability to quickly notify case participants is critical.

“Court-date reminders have been proven to significantly improve court-appearance rates, reducing the need to issue warrants for failure to appear,” she added. “We intend to closely monitor appearance rates following implementation and report on the success of the program.”

The “eNotify” system is offered as a courtesy by the clerk’s office and is not a legal notice, according to a warning posted on the website. It also makes clear that it is the responsibility of a litigant or defendant, not the court, to keep track of court dates.

“Canceling text messages does not cancel a court date,” the site says. “You must contact your attorney or file a motion with the Court.”

Once a user has subscribed, they will get messages four times prior to a court date: an initial message confirming subscription and notification of date, then reminders seven days, three days and one day before the court date. Participants will also receive messages when a court date or time is changed.

Besides the sign-up form on the circuit clerk website, when a person posts bond at the sheriff’s office, the form will allow a defendant to opt in to the reminder program. Staff in the clerk’s office will put the information in the system when bond forms are delivered daily to their office.

Blakeman said the idea of providing reminders to court participants was a recommendation from the Racial Justice Task Force report presented to the Champaign County Board in October 2017. She said she hopes to get money from the Illinois Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission to expand the messaging platform to include multiple languages and chat assistance for issues like parking and transportation.

Reporter

Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).