Except for those cases appealed directly to the Supreme
Court, a person has the right to request a review of a
circuit court judge’s decision by the appellate court.
The appellate court is organized into five districts. The
first meets in Chicago, the second in Elgin, the third in
Ottawa, the fourth in Springfield, and the fifth in Mt. Vernon.
Each district can have one or more divisions. There are
six divisions in the first district and one in each of the
other four. The Supreme Court assigns judges to the
various divisions. The presiding judge of each division
assigns judges to panels of three to hear appeals.
The number of appellate court judgeships, currently
fifty-four, is determined by the legislature. The
Supreme Court can assign additional circuit,
appellate or retired judges temporarily to any district.
Judges are elected by voters in each district
for ten-year terms, and may be retained for
additional ten-year terms. Each judge has a
support staff of two law clerks and a secretary.
Each district manages its own operations, subject to
the overall authority of the Supreme Court. In the
first district (Cook County), an executive committee
exercises general administrative authority. This
committee elects a chairperson and vice-chairperson
for one year. In the other districts, judges select one of
their members to serve as presiding judge for one year.