Illinois is infamous for gerrymandering—the practice of politicians redrawing the political districts to protect their positions of power. Many have even quipped that voters in Illinois don’t pick their politicians, rather the politicians pick their voters. And now it appears that the politicians are also attempting to pick the judges as well. On June 4, 2021, Governor JB Pritzker signed into law a new judicial district map which drastically changes the makeup of Illinois’s five appellate judicial districts—which had remained unchanged for nearly sixty years.
Judicial districts are used decide who will serve on the seven-member Illinois Supreme Court, how appellate court judges are elected, and which judges will decide appeals arising from which counties. For example, appeals from decisions made by the Circuit Court in Winnebago County will no longer be heard in the 2nd District Appellate Court located forty-five minutes away in Elgin, IL but will rather be heard by the 4th District Appellate Court located over three hours away in Springfield, IL. Numerous county courts (which make up the various judicial circuits) will now be under the jurisdiction of a completely different appellate court.
The changes are so severe that the Illinois Supreme Court had to issue an order on June 7, 2021, delaying the implementation of the new map in order to change everything from how appeals are processed to where judicial staff will need to be relocated. Given all the changes that are coming to Illinois’s appellate courts, it will be even more important to hire an attorney who is well-versed in the nuances of appellate practice and is up-to-speed on the latest changes to the rules and appellate court procedures.
Below is a brief video in which I discuss the differences between a trial court and an appellate court.
If you are looking to retain an Illinois trial attorney who also knows his way around the appellate courts in Illinois, please give me a call (815) 986-8050.