The Illinois Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Illinois is the state supreme court, the highest court of the State of Illinois. The court’s authority is granted in Article VI of the current Illinois Constitution, which provides for seven justices elected from the five appellate judicial districts of the state: three justices from the First District (Cook County) and one from each of the other four districts. Each justice is elected for a term of 10 years and the chief justice is elected by the court from its members for a three-year term.
The court has limited original jurisdiction and has final appellate jurisdiction. It has mandatory jurisdiction in capital cases and cases where the constitutionality of laws has been called into question, and discretionary jurisdiction from the Illinois Appellate Court. Along with the state legislature, the court promulgates rules for all state courts. Also, its members have the authority to elevate trial judges to the appellate court on a temporary basis. The court administers professional discipline through the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee and it governs initial licensing through the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar.
Illinois Appellate Court
The Illinois Appellate Court is the court of first appeal for civil and criminal cases rising in the Illinois Circuit Courts. Three Illinois Appellate Court judges hear each case and the concurrence of two is necessary to render a decision. The Illinois Appellate Court will render its opinion in writing, in the form of a published opinion or an unpublished order. As of 1935, decisions of the Illinois Appellate Court became binding authority upon lower courts in Illinois.
The Illinois Appellate Court has 52 judges serving five districts. The majority of the judges (18 in the First District, and between seven and nine in each of the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Districts) are elected, with the remaining judges having been appointed by the Supreme Court of Illinois.
Civil cases appealed from the Illinois Appellate Court are heard by the Supreme Court of Illinois upon the grant of a Petition for Leave to Appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 315, a Certificate of Importance under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 316, or a Petition for Appeal as a Matter of Right under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 317. The same rules apply to criminal cases.
The First District is based in Chicago and hears cases arising in Cook County. It is divided into six divisions, each with four judges. The First District clerk’s office, and the principal seat of the court are located in the Michael Bilandic Building, at 160 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60601.
The Second District is based in Elgin and hears cases arising in 13 counties in northern Illinois (Boone, Carroll, DeKalb, DuPage, Jo Daviess, Kane, Kendall, Lake, Lee, McHenry, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago). The Second District has nine judges. The Second District clerk’s office is located at Appellate Court Building, 55 Symphony Way, Elgin, IL 60120.
The Third District is based in Ottawa and hears cases arising in 21 counties in central Illinois (Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Kankakee, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, McDonough, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock Island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Whiteside, and Will). The Third District has seven judges. The Third District clerk’s office is located at 1004 Columbus Street, Ottawa, IL 61350.
The Fourth District is based in Springfield and hears cases arising in 30 counties in central Illinois (Adams, Brown, Calhoun, Cass, Champaign, Clark, Coles, Cumberland, DeWitt, Douglas, Edgar, Ford, Greene, Jersey, Livingston, Logan, Macon, Macoupin, Mason, McLean, Menard, Morgan, Moultrie, Piatt, Pike, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Vermillion, and Woodford). The Fourth District has seven judges. The Fourth District clerk’s office is located at 201 West Monroe Street, Springfield, IL 62794.
The Fifth District is based in Mount Vernon and hears cases arising in 37 counties in southern Illinois (Alexander, Bond, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Crawford, Edwards, Effingham, Fayette, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Massac, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pope, Pulaski, Randolph, Richland, St. Clair, Saline, Shelby, Union, Wabash, Washington, Wayne, White, and Williamson). The Fifth District has seven judges. The Fifth District clerk’s office is located at 14th & Main Street, Mount Vernon, IL 62864.