Illinois Supreme Court
The Supreme Court, highest tribunal in Illinois, has seven justices, elected from judicial districts for a term of 10 years. Three justices are elected from the First District (Cook County), and one from each of the other four districts. The Supreme Court has general administrative and supervisory authority over all courts in the state. This authority is exercised by the Chief Justice with the assistance of the Administrative Director and staff appointed by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts and may exercise original jurisdiction in cases relating to revenue, mandamus, prohibition or habeas corpus.
When a Supreme Court Judgeship is vacant or newly created, candidates are nominated at Primary Elections and elected at the General Election. However, any Judge previously elected may, at the expiration of his or her term, have his or her name submitted to the voters on a special judicial ballot without party designation and without an opposing candidate, on the sole question of whether he or she shall be retained in office for another term.
Supreme Court in Session
The Court convenes in the Illinois Supreme Court Building in Springfield on the second Monday in the months of September, November, January, March, and May. The length of each session depends upon the matters before the Court. Between sessions, Justices are concerned with reviewing briefs, pleas and motions for forthcoming sessions, and with the preparation and review of Court opinions.
A quorum of four Justices is required for transaction of Court business and there must be agreement among at least four Justices on any decision or opinion rendered by the Court. The Justices select one of their members to serve as Chief Justice for a term of three years.
The Chief Justice occupies the center chair behind the bench in the Courtroom, with the other Justices seated alternately to the Chief's right and left in order of their seniority. The Marshal of the Court and the clerk of the Court sit at desks facing each other before the bench.
Persons addressing the Court use the center table and lectern. Tables are provided for opposing counsel near the lectern. Normally, 50 minutes per case is allotted for oral argument. This time is divided between counsel with 20 minutes allowed for opening argument, 20 minutes for reply, followed by 10 minutes for rebuttal. Capital cases are allotted 70 minutes. Upon request, additional time may be extended in any case.
Customary rules of decorum are observed when attending or visiting sessions of the Illinois Supreme Court.
1. Timely arrival. The Supreme Court convenes promptly at its announced starting times. All attorneys and others having business before the Court should be seated in the Courtroom before time for the Court to convene.
2. Marshal's announcement. As soon as members of the Court are ready to enter the Courtroom, the Marshal will announce their approach by rapping the gavel. Immediately all persons present will rise to their feet and remain standing until all members of the Court are seated.
3. Recess and Adjournment. When the Chief Justice announces a recess or adjournment, the Marshal will call all persons to their feet with a rap of the gavel, and they will continue to stand until all members of the Court have retired from the room. During this recessional, the audience should refrain from movement or conversation.
4. Courtesy to speaker. Whenever members of the bar are addressing the Court, or members of the Court are speaking, all other persons in the Courtroom should remain silent. Persons wishing to retire from the Courtroom should wait until an oral argument has been completed.