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Illinois Judicial System

From the Constitution of the State of Illinois
Article VI
The Judiciary

SECTION 1. COURTS

The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court, an Appellate Court and Circuit Courts.

 

SECTION 2. JUDICIAL DISTRICTS

The State is divided into five Judicial Districts for the selection of Supreme and Appellate Court Judges. The First Judicial District consists of Cook County. The remainder of the State shall be divided by law into four Judicial Districts of substantially equal population, each of which shall be compact and composed of contiguous counties.

 

SECTION 3. SUPREME COURT - ORGANIZATION

The Supreme Court shall consist of seven Judges. Three shall be selected from the First Judicial District and one from each of the other Judicial Districts. Four Judges constitute a quorum and the concurrence of four is necessary for a decision. Supreme Court Judges shall select a Chief Justice from their number to serve for a term of three years.

 

SECTION 4. SUPREME COURT - JURISDICTION

(a) The Supreme Court may exercise original jurisdiction in cases relating to revenue, mandamus, prohibition or habeas corpus and as may be necessary to the complete determination of any case on review.
(b) Appeals from judgments of Circuit Courts imposing a sentence of death shall be directly to the Supreme Court as a matter of right. The Supreme Court shall provide by rule for direct appeal in other cases.
(c) Appeals from the Appellate Court to the Supreme Court are a matter of right if a question under the Constitution of the United States or of this State arises for the first time in and as a result of the action of the Appellate Court, or if a division of the Appellate Court certifies that a case decided by it involves a question of such importance that the case should be decided by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court may provide by rule for appeals from the Appellate Court in other cases.

 

SECTION 5. APPELLATE COURT - ORGANIZATION

The number of Appellate Judges to be selected from each Judicial District shall be provided by law. The Supreme Court shall prescribe by rule the number of Appellate divisions in each Judicial District. Each Appellate division shall have at least three Judges. Assignments to divisions shall be made by the Supreme Court. A majority of a division constitutes a quorum and the concurrence of a majority of the division is necessary for a decision. There shall be at least one division in each Judicial District and each division shall sit at times and places prescribed by rules of the Supreme Court.

 

SECTION 6. APPELLATE COURT - JURISDICTION

Appeals from final judgments of a Circuit Court are a matter of right to the Appellate Court in the Judicial District in which the Circuit Court is located except in cases appealable directly to the Supreme Court and except that after a trial on the merits in a criminal case, there shall be no appeal from a judgment of acquittal. The Supreme Court may provide by rule for appeals to the Appellate Court from other than final judgments of Circuit Courts. The Appellate Court may exercise original jurisdiction when necessary to the complete determination of any case on review. The Appellate Court shall have such powers of direct review of administrative action as provided by law.

 

SECTION 7. JUDICIAL CIRCUITS

(a) The State shall be divided into Judicial Circuits consisting of one or more counties. The First Judicial District shall constitute a Judicial Circuit. The Judicial Circuits within the other Judicial Districts shall be as provided by law. Circuits composed of more than one county shall be compact and of contiguous counties. The General Assembly by law may provide for the division of a circuit for the purpose of selection of Circuit Judges and for the selection of Circuit Judges from the circuit at large.
(b) Each Judicial Circuit shall have one Circuit Court with such number of Circuit Judges as provided by law. Unless otherwise provided by law, there shall be at least one Circuit Judge from each county. In the First Judicial District, unless otherwise provided by law, Cook County, Chicago, and the area outside Chicago shall be separate units for the selection of Circuit Judges, with at least twelve chosen at large from the area outside Chicago and at least thirty-six chosen at large from Chicago.
(c) Circuit Judges in each circuit shall select by secret ballot a Chief Judge from their number to serve at their pleasure. Subject to the authority of the Supreme Court, the Chief Judge shall have general administrative authority over his court, including authority to provide for divisions, general or specialized, and for appropriate times and places of holding court.

 

SECTION 8. ASSOCIATE JUDGES

Each Circuit Court shall have such number of Associate Judges as provided by law. Associate Judges shall be appointed by the Circuit Judges in each circuit as the Supreme Court shall provide by rule. In the First Judicial District, unless otherwise provided by law, at least one-fourth of the Associate Judges shall be appointed from, and reside, outside Chicago. The Supreme Court shall provide by rule for matters to be assigned to Associate Judges.

 

SECTION 9. CIRCUIT COURTS - JURISDICTION

Circuit Courts shall have original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters except when the Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction relating to redistricting of the General Assembly and to the ability of the Governor to serve or resume office. Circuit Courts shall have such power to review administrative action as provided by law.

 

SECTION 10. TERMS OF OFFICE

The terms of office of Supreme and Appellate Court Judges shall be ten years; of Circuit Judges, six years; and of Associate Judges, four years.

 

SECTION 11. ELIGIBILITY FOR OFFICE

No person shall be eligible to be a Judge or Associate Judge unless he is a United States citizen, a licensed attorney-at-law of this State, and a resident of the unit which selects him. No change in the boundaries of a unit shall affect the tenure in office of a Judge or Associate Judge incumbent at the time of such change.

 

SECTION 12. ELECTION AND RETENTION

(a) Supreme, Appellate and Circuit Judges shall be nominated at primary elections or by petition. Judges shall be elected at general or judicial elections as the General Assembly shall provide by law. A person eligible for the office of Judge may cause his name to appear on the ballot as a candidate for Judge at the primary and at the general or judicial elections by submitting petitions. The General Assembly shall prescribe by law the requirements for petitions.
(b) The office of a Judge shall be vacant upon his death, resignation, retirement, removal, or upon the conclusion of his term without retention in office. Whenever an additional Appellate or Circuit Judge is authorized by law, the office shall be filled in the manner provided for filling a vacancy in that office.
(c) A vacancy occurring in the office of Supreme, Appellate or Circuit Judge shall be filled as the General Assembly may provide by law. In the absence of a law, vacancies may be filled by appointment by the Supreme Court. A person appointed to fill a vacancy 60 or more days prior to the next primary election to nominate Judges shall serve until the vacancy is filled for a term at the next general or judicial election. A person appointed to fill a vacancy less than 60 days prior to the next primary election to nominate Judges shall serve until the vacancy is filled at the second general or judicial election following such appointment.
(d) Not less than six months before the general election preceding the expiration of his term of office, a Supreme, Appellate or Circuit Judge who has been elected to that office may file in the office of the Secretary of State a declaration of candidacy to succeed himself. The Secretary of State, not less than 63 days before the election, shall certify the Judge's candidacy to the proper election officials. The names of Judges seeking retention shall be submitted to the electors, separately and without party designation, on the sole question whether each Judge shall be retained in office for another term. The retention elections shall be conducted at general elections in the appropriate Judicial District, for Supreme and Appellate Judges, and in the circuit for Circuit Judges. The affirmative vote of three-fifths of the electors voting on the question shall elect the Judge to the office for a term commencing on the first Monday in December following his election.
(e) A law reducing the number of Appellate or Circuit Judges shall be without prejudice to the right of the Judges affected to seek retention in office. A reduction shall become effective when a vacancy occurs in the affected unit.

 

SECTION 13. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES

(a) The Supreme Court shall adopt rules of conduct for Judges and Associate Judges.
(b) Judges and Associate Judges shall devote full time to judicial duties. They shall not practice law, hold a position of profit, hold office under the United States or this State or unit of local government or school district or in a political party. Service in the State militia or armed forces of the United States for periods of time permitted by rule of the Supreme Court shall not disqualify a person from serving as a Judge or Associate Judge.

 

SECTION 14. JUDICIAL SALARIES AND EXPENSES - FEE OFFICERS ELIMINATED

Judges shall receive salaries provided by law which shall not be diminished to take effect during their terms of office. All salaries and such expenses as may be provided by law shall be paid by the State, except that Appellate, Circuit and Associate Judges shall receive such additional compensation from counties within their district or circuit as may be provided by law. There shall be no fee officers in the judicial system.

 

SECTION 15. RETIREMENT - DISCIPLINE

(a) The General Assembly may provide by law for the retirement of Judges and Associate Judges at a prescribed age. Any retired Judge or Associate Judge, with his or her consent, may be assigned by the Supreme Court to judicial service for which he or she shall receive the applicable compensation in lieu of retirement benefits. A retired Associate Judge may be assigned only as an Associate Judge.
(b) A Judicial Inquiry Board is created. The Supreme Court shall select two Circuit Judges as members and the Governor shall appoint four persons who are not lawyers and three lawyers as members of the Board. No more than two of the lawyers and two of the non-lawyers appointed by the Governor shall be members of the same political party. The terms of Board members shall be four years. A vacancy on the Board shall be filled for a full term in the manner the original appointment was made. No member may serve on the Board more than eight years.
(c) The Board shall be convened permanently, with authority to conduct investigations, receive or initiate complaints concerning a Judge or Associate Judge, and file complaints with the Courts Commission. The Board shall not file a complaint unless five members believe that a reasonable basis exists (1) to charge the Judge or Associate Judge with willful misconduct in office, persistent failure to perform his duties, or other conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or that brings the judicial office into disrepute, or (2) to charge that the Judge or Associate Judge is physically or mentally unable to perform his duties. All proceedings of the Board shall be confidential except the filing of a complaint with the Courts Commission. The Board shall prosecute the complaint.
(d) The Board shall adopt rules governing its procedures. It shall have subpoena power and authority to appoint and direct its staff. Members of the Board who are not Judges shall receive per diem compensation and necessary expenses; members who are Judges shall receive necessary expenses only. The General Assembly by law shall appropriate funds for the operation of the Board.
(e) An independent Courts Commission is created consisting of one Supreme Court Judge selected by that Court as a member and one as an alternate, two Appellate Court Judges selected by that Court as members and three as alternates, two Circuit Judges selected by the Supreme Court as members and three as alternates, and two citizens selected by the Governor as members and two as alternates. Members and alternates who are Appellate Court Judges must each be from a different Judicial District. Members and alternates who are Circuit Judges must each be from a different Judicial District. Members and alternates of the Commission shall not be members of the Judicial Inquiry Board. The members of the Commission shall select a chairperson to serve a two-year term. The Commission shall be convened permanently to hear complaints filed by the Judicial Inquiry Board. The Commission shall have authority after notice and public hearing,
(1) to remove from office, suspend without pay, censure or reprimand a Judge or Associate Judge for willful misconduct in office, persistent failure to perform his or her duties, or other conduct that is prejudicial to the administration of justice or that brings the judicial office into disrepute, or
(2) to suspend, with or without pay, or retire a Judge or Associate Judge who is physically or mentally unable to perform his or her duties.
(f) The concurrence of four members of the Commission shall be necessary for a decision. The decision of the Commission shall be final.
(g) The Commission shall adopt comprehensive rules to ensure that its procedures are fair and appropriate. These rules and any amendments shall be public and filed with the Secretary of State at least 30 days before becoming effective.
(h) A member of the Commission shall disqualify himself or herself, or the other members of the Commission shall disqualify a member, with respect to any proceeding in which disqualification or recusal would be required of a Judge under rules of the Supreme Court, under rules of the Commission, or by law. If a Supreme Court Judge is the subject of a proceeding, then there shall be no Supreme Court Judge sitting as a member of the Commission with respect to that proceeding. Instead, an alternate Appellate Court Judge not from the same Judicial District as the subject Supreme Court Judge shall replace the subject Supreme Court Judge. If a member who is an Appellate Court Judge is the subject of a proceeding, then an alternate Appellate Court Judge shall replace the subject Appellate Court Judge. If an Appellate Court Judge who is not a member is the subject of a proceeding and an Appellate Court Judge from the same Judicial District is a member, then an alternate Appellate Court Judge shall replace that member. If a member who is a Circuit Judge is the subject of a proceeding, then an alternate Circuit Judge shall replace the subject Circuit Judge. If a Circuit Judge who is not a member is the subject of a proceeding and a Circuit Judge from the same Judicial District is a member, then an alternate Circuit Judge shall replace that member. If a member of the Commission is disqualified under this Section with respect to any proceeding, that member shall be replaced by an alternate on a rotating basis in a manner provided by rule of the Commission. The alternate shall act as member of the Commission with respect to that proceeding only.
(i) The Commission shall have power to issue subpoenas.
(j) Members and alternates of the Commission who are not Judges shall receive per diem compensation and necessary expenses; members and alternates who are Judges shall receive necessary expenses only. The General Assembly shall provide by law for the expenses and compensation of the Commission. (Source: Amendment adopted at general election November 3, 1998.)

 

SECTION 16. ADMINISTRATION

General administrative and supervisory authority over all courts is vested in the Supreme Court and shall be exercised by the Chief Justice in accordance with its rules. The Supreme Court shall appoint an administrative director and staff, who shall serve at its pleasure, to assist the Chief Justice in his duties. The Supreme Court may assign a Judge temporarily to any court and an Associate Judge to serve temporarily as an Associate Judge on any Circuit Court. The Supreme Court shall provide by rule for expeditious and inexpensive appeals.

 

SECTION 17. JUDICIAL CONFERENCE

The Supreme Court shall provide by rule for an annual judicial conference to consider the work of the courts and to suggest improvements in the administration of justice and shall report thereon annually in writing to the General Assembly not later than January 31.

 

SECTION 18. CLERKS OF COURTS

(a) The Supreme Court and the Appellate Court Judges of each Judicial District, respectively, shall appoint a clerk and other non-judicial officers for their Court or District.
(b) The General Assembly shall provide by law for the election, or for the appointment by Circuit Judges, of clerks and other non-judicial officers of the Circuit Courts and for their terms of office and removal for cause. (c) The salaries of clerks and other non-judicial officers shall be as provided by law.

 

SECTION 19. STATE'S ATTORNEYS - SELECTION, SALARY

A State's Attorney shall be elected in each county in 1972 and every fourth year thereafter for a four year term. One State's Attorney may be elected to serve two or more counties if the governing boards of such counties so provide and a majority of the electors of each county voting on the issue approve. A person shall not be eligible for the office of State's Attorney unless he is a United States citizen and a licensed attorney-at-law of this State. His salary shall be provided by law.


(Source: Illinois Constitution.)

 

 


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