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Attorney FAQ 

 


WHAT ATTORNEYS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COMMUNICATING WITH CLIENTS WHO ARE INCARCERATED IN THE ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

All inmates in the Illinois Department of Corrections are allowed to accept confidential mail communications from their attorneys. Additionally, with advance notification, private visiting arrangements can be made for attorneys on the inmate's visiting list. General population inmates may make collect calls to their attorneys on monitored phone lines for non-confidential communications. However, arrangements for unmonitored phone calls between attorneys and clients is an exception provided on a case-by-case basis. Unmonitored calls are generally only approved if other means of communicating are not adequate and the prison is able to accommodate the call.

In determining whether the prison will make arrangements for an unmonitored phone call, the Department will take into account court deadlines, which, if missed, could prejudice the client's legal interest.

The general rules on legal mail, visits, and phone calls are set forth in the Department Rule 525. (See 20 ILAC 525). The following clarifying information is intended to help you communicate with your client.

LEGAL MAIL:
All inmates may receive privileged communications from their attorneys. Attorneys should be aware of the following procedures:
1. On the outside of the envelope, clearly mark privileged mail as "Legal" or "Privileged" and put your name, title and return address.
2. Legal mail may only contain communications from the person whose name is on the outside of the envelope. Including third party correspondence or sending non-legal correspondence as privileged mail is prohibited. Non-legal correspondence may be sent as regular mail subject to inspection.
3. Incoming legal mail shall be opened in the presence of the committed person to whom it is addressed to inspect for contraband, to verify the identity of the sender, and to determine that nothing other than legal matter is enclosed.
4. The Department will not accept faxed communications on behalf of inmates.

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ATTORNEY/CLIENT VISITS:
An attorney visiting an inmate as a family member or friend will be subject to the same monitored visiting policy as other visitors. The rules for visits are listed on this website under “Visitation Rules.”  

Requests for confidential attorney-client legal visits may be requested but must be approved in advance.  Visiting areas for confidential legal visits are limited.  Therefore, in addition to the facility visitation rules, the following additional requirements apply to legal visits:

 

  1. The visit must be scheduled in advance.  A request for an attorney/client visit must be in writing from the attorney and faxed to the facility where the client is currently incarcerated at least two business days prior to the requested date of the visit.
  2. The written request must contain the following information:
    1. The client’s name and IDOC identification number;
    2. The preferred date and time of the requested visit; and
    3. The name, telephone number, fax number, e-mail address (optional), and attorney registration number of the attorney requesting the visit.
    4. The case name, case number, and court in which the attorney is representing the inmate.
  3. Information about where an inmate is housed as well as the facility’s location and phone number can be obtained on this website under “Inmate search” and “Facilities.”  
  4. The Attorney will be given confirmation either by fax or e-mail as to whether the proposed visit is granted.  Attorneys who arrive at a facility without prior approval for the visit will not be allowed a confidential legal visit.
  5. Attorneys must present two forms of identification to enter the prison; one of which must be a photo ID.  Identification must include the attorney’s date of birth and current address.  Attorneys are also required to present their current attorney registration card.
  6. Law students (Supreme Court Rule 711 certification) working with an attorney will also be allowed attorney/client visits.  A law student must submit proof of 711 certification and a written statement signed by the attorney attesting that the student is working under the attorney’s supervision.  The written statement must also include the name of the attorney’s client with whom the student is seeking a confidential visit.
  7. Attorneys arriving for a legal visit are reminded not to bring telephones, pagers, computers, or other similar electronic contraband into the facility.  Additionally, tobacco products and metal binding clips are prohibited.
  8. Visitation may be temporarily suspended during an institutional lockdown. It is recommended that attorneys contact the facility prior to departure to confirm that the client has not been transferred and that visitations at the facility have not been suspended.  Lockdown status for a particular facility can also be found on this website under the link to “facilities.”

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PHONE CALLS:
Telephone calls are monitored and only outgoing collect calls are available.  Attorneys wishing to communicate with an incarcerated client regarding non-confidential procedural matters should write to the client and request that the client call the attorney.

Since some cell phone services are not capable of accepting collect calls, the attorney should consider this when giving the client a phone number to call.  Three way telephone connections and transferred calls are not permitted. Telephone privileges are granted in accordance with the inmate's institutional status. Additionally, calls may be temporarily restricted if the facility or a portion of the facility is on lockdown status.  All calls are subject to monitoring and recording unless there is prior permission for an unmonitored legal phone call.

For confidential attorney-client privileged communications, an attorney may request an unmonitored legal phone call subject to the following requirements:

 

  1. The legal phone call must be scheduled in advance.  The request must be in writing from the attorney and faxed to the facility where the client is currently incarcerated at least two business days prior to the requested date of the telephone call.
  2. The written request must contain the following information:
    1. The client's name and IDOC identification number;
    2. The preferred date with a two hour window of time during which the attorney will be available to receive the collect call;
    3. The name, telephone number, fax number, e-mail address (optional), and attorney registration number of the attorney to whom the collect call is to be made; and
    4.  A brief description of the need for a legal phone call, including the case name, case number, and court in which the attorney is representing the inmate.
  3. Information about where an inmate is housed as well as the facility’s location and phone number can be obtained on this website under “Inmate search” and “Facilities.”  
  4. The requestor will be given confirmation either by fax or e-mail as to whether the phone call request is granted or denied.  Attorney/client legal calls are not guaranteed.
  5. Due to the volume of requests, legal calls are limited to 30 minutes absent advance approval for critical circumstances.
  6. The only parties allowed to be connected on a legal phone call are the attorney and the client.  Conference calls are not permitted.

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How do I serve a subpoena for an inmate’s records?

A subpoena for records should be served on the prison facility where the records are located and not at the Chicago or Springfield IDOC Offices. The subpoena should be addressed to the facility “Record Officer Supervisor”. The prison facility of any current inmate or former prison facility of any inmate on parole or mandatory supervised release can be found on the IDOC public website on the “Inmate search” link.

Please be advised, there are copying costs for records.

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How do I serve a summons on an IDOC employee?

A summons for an IDOC employee-defendant must be served at the facility where the employee works.

If a summons for an IDOC employee is mailed to the facility, it will be given to the employee. If a process server comes to the facility for personal service, the facility will inform the process server of the employee’s shift/days schedule for possible service before or after the employee’s shift, but the facility will not call an employee from duty to receive service and will not accept service for the employee.

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How do I serve a summons on an IDOC inmate in a civil non-IDOC-related case?

For service/summons on an inmate in a civil matter (e.g. home mortgage foreclosure, divorce, etc.), the serving party may serve the inmate through the county sheriff or by mail where allowed by law. For mail service, the inmate alone, and not IDOC, is responsible for returning the service receipt. Or, the serving party may personally serve the inmate through a private process server per the procedure set out in 735 ILCS 5/2-203.2.

IDOC does not transport inmates to court hearings in non-IDOC civil cases except per a court’s writ of habeas corpus ad testificandum.

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