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Illinois Judicial System

by Roni G.

Illinois Judicial System, Judicial System

Illinois Judicial System and Court System: How Does it Work?

The State of Illinois court system holds the Judiciary is responsible for ensuring that the law and the Constitution are applied within its jurisdiction. The Judiciary consists of the Supreme Court, Appellate Courts as well as Circuit Courts. At the helm of Illinois Judiciary System lies the Supreme Court and it is also the highest authority within the Illinois Judiciary.

What are the three courts under the Illinois Judicial System?

The 1970 Illinois Constitution includes Article VI, a Judicial Article that provides Illinois with a three-tiered court system to ensure that the law is preserved in the State.

Illinois Supreme Court: The highest court within the Illinois Judicial System, cases usually come to the Supreme Court from the Appellate court. However, in situations where the Circuit Court has given someone a death sentence, that individual has the right to bypass the Appellate Court and directly appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court also has the power to make rules that allow for appeals made to them directly in cases where they deem they have to.

There are areas where the Supreme Court holds the ultimate authority, such as in a situation where the Governor's capability to be in office needs to be decided upon, or situations involving legislative redistricting. The Supreme Court, under its discretion, can also oversee cases that have to do with matters relating to the State's finances, as well as the writs of mandamus, habeas corpus, and prohibition.

Illinois Judicial System

The Supreme Court of the State of Illinois includes seven Justices. Three of them are representatives of the First Appellate Judicial District, in this case, Cook County. The four remaining judges each represent the remaining four judicial districts. For any decisions to be made regarding a case by this court, a majority of four is required.

Illinois Appellate Courts: The Appellate Courts of Illinois can be found within five judicial districts. With Cook County serving the role of the entire First Judicial districts, the rest of the appellate courts are divided among the other four districts. The Second Judicial District of the Appellate Court includes the Nineteenth Judicial District as well as five other circuits.
Anyone can appeal a decision made by a Circuit Court to the Appellate Court. The only exception to this rule is the Attorney of the State, who cannot appeal to overturn a verdict of ‘not guilty.’ The attorneys, when they come to an Appellate Court, do not revisit the facts of the case but rather the appeal is to see whether the Circuit Court was right in its application of the law. A total of three judges hear Appellate cases and a majority vote of two is required to reach a verdict. If the Appellate Court finds no errors in the Circuit Court's handling of the case, or if the error is so minimal so as not to affect the case, it does not typically overturn the Circuit Court's decision. However, if there has indeed been a grave error, then the case is sent back to the Circuit Courts for further trial until a proper verdict can be reached.

judicial System

Illinois Circuit Courts: There are twenty-three Judicial Circuits in Illinois. Circuit Courts are given general jurisdiction to look at cases, meaning they can oversee all cases except those that only the Supreme Court has exclusive jurisdiction over.

Circuit Courts have two kinds of judges, Circuit Judges, and Associate Judges. They are all licensed attorneys and officials of the State. Judges of the Circuit Court are elected for six years. The Circuit Judges then choose a Chief Judge who oversees the Circuit Courts. Associate Judges are welcomed for a four-year term and are selected by the Judges of the Circuit Court.

The Illinois Judicial System seeks to preserve the Constitution and protect the rights and liberties of all citizens and people within the State.


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