Supreme Court of Illinois

The Supreme Court of Illinois is the state supreme court, the highest court of the state of Illinois. The court's authority is granted in Article VI of the current Illinois Constitution, which provides for seven justices elected from the five appellate judicial districts of the state: three justices from the First District (Cook County) and one from each of the other four districts. Each justice is elected for a term of ten years[2] and the chief justice is elected by the court from its members for a three-year term.

Illinois Supreme Court
Seal of the Supreme Court of Illinois
Seal of the Supreme Court of Illinois
Country Illinois
 United States
LocationSpringfield, Illinois
Coordinates39°47′53″N 89°39′10″W / 39.797928°N 89.652724°WCoordinates: 39°47′53″N 89°39′10″W / 39.797928°N 89.652724°W
MottoLatin: Audi Alteram Partem
Hear the other side
Composition methodPartisan election
Authorized byIllinois Constitution
Decisions are appealed toSupreme Court of the United States
Judge term length10 years
No. of positions7
WebsiteOfficial website
Chief Justice
CurrentlyLloyd A. Karmeier
SinceOctober 26, 2016
Jurist term ends2019


The court has limited original jurisdiction and has final appellate jurisdiction. It has mandatory jurisdiction in capital cases and cases where the constitutionality of laws has been called into question, and discretionary jurisdiction from the Illinois Appellate Court. Along with the state legislature, the court promulgates rules for all state courts. Also, its members have the authority to elevate trial judges to the appellate court on a temporary basis.[3] The court administers professional discipline through the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Committee and it governs initial licensing through the Illinois Board of Admissions to the Bar.

The official reporter of the Illinois Supreme Court is Illinois Reports.


The Illinois Supreme Court is separated into 5 districts, with one Justice elected from each except the 1st, which elects three Justices. They are separated by county lines, as follows.

1st District

2nd District

3rd District

4th District

5th District


Illinois Supreme Court
Illinois Supreme Court, Springfield, Illinois

While the justices of many states' supreme courts are expected to relocate to the state capital for the duration of their terms of office, the justices of the Illinois Supreme Court continue to reside in their home districts and have chambers in their respective appellate districts (for example, the three First District justices are chambered in the Michael Bilandic Building in Chicago). The justices travel to Springfield to hear oral arguments and deliberate. Accordingly, the Illinois Supreme Courthouse includes temporary apartments for the justices' use while in Springfield.

Current Justices

Name Party Joined Term Ends District Law school attended
Anne M. Burke Democratic 2006 2028 1st Chicago-Kent College of Law
Mary Jane Theis Democratic 2010 2022 1st University of San Francisco
P. Scott Neville Jr. Democratic 2018 2020 1st Washington University School of Law
Robert R. Thomas Republican 2000 2020 2nd Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Thomas L. Kilbride Democratic 2000 2020 3rd Antioch School of Law
Rita B. Garman Republican 2001 2022 4th University of Iowa College of Law
Lloyd A. Karmeier (Chief Justice) Republican 2004 2024 5th University of Illinois College of Law

Previous Justices




See also


  1. ^ "Judicial System". Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  2. ^ "Courts in Illinois". Illinois Supreme Court.
  3. ^ Appellate Court Act (705 ILCS 25/1(d)). Retrieved 2010-04-07.


  • List of Supreme Court Justices from Supreme Court's website
  • Scammon, J. Young (1841). Illinois Reports v. 1 (2 ed.). Chicago: Gale & Burley.
  • Gilman, Charles; Russell H. Curtis (1886). Illinois Reports v. 10. Chicago: Callaghan & Co.
  • Peck, E. (1856). Illinois Reports v. 16. Chicago: D. B. Cooke & Co.
  • Peck, E. (1869). Illinois Reports v. 16 (2 ed.). St. Louis: W. J. Gilbert.
  • Peck, E. (1858). Illinois Reports v. 19. Chicago: D. B. Cooke & Co.
  • Ewell, Marshall D. Illinois Reports v. 33.
  • Freeman, Norman L. (1866). Illinois Reports v. 44. Callaghan & Co.

External links

Bilandic Building

The Michael A. Bilandic Building, (formally the Justice Michael Bilandic State of Illinois Building and formerly State of Illinois Building) is a building located at 160 North LaSalle Street in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. The 21-story building was constructed in 1920. Following the 1985 completion of the James R. Thompson Center, which currently serves as the primary building for the State of Illinois, this building became the State of Illinois Annex Building. The 92nd General Assembly of the State of Illinois passed a resolution to rename the State of Illinois Building the Justice Michael Bilandic State of Illinois Building. The legislation was adopted on February 5, 2003. The building was named after Michael Anthony Bilandic, a former Mayor of Chicago, a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois and a United States Marine Corps First lieutenant, shortly after his death.

Capital punishment in Illinois

Capital punishment was a legal form of punishment in the U.S. state of Illinois until 2011, when it was abolished.

Initially, Illinois used death by hanging as a form of execution. The last person executed by this method was the public execution of Charles Birger. In 1928, the electric chair was substituted for death by hanging. After being struck down by Furman v. Georgia in 1972, the death penalty was reinstated in Illinois on July 1, 1974 but voided by the Supreme Court of Illinois in 1975. Illinois officially reinstated the death penalty on July 1, 1977. Lethal injection was adopted in the state in 1990, but the electric chair remained operational in Illinois to replace lethal injection if needed.

In 1994, the state executed serial killer John Wayne Gacy, who sexually assaulted, tortured and murdered at least 33 teenage boys and young men between 1972 and 1978 in Cook County (a part of metropolitan Chicago). The last man executed in Illinois was the serial killer Andrew Kokoraleis in 1999.

On January 11, 2003 the Republican Governor George Ryan blanket commuted the sentences of all the 167 inmates condemned to death, a gesture that his opponents attribute to the fact that he was rendered ineligible by his unpopularity and charged with conspiracy, racketeering and fraud.Democratic Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation on March 9, 2011 to abolish the death penalty in Illinois to go into effect July 1, 2011, and commuted the death sentences of the fifteen inmates on Illinois' death row to life imprisonment. Quinn was criticized for signing the bill after saying that he supported the death penalty during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign after which he defeated the Republican candidate with 46.8% of the vote.In 2018, Governor Bruce Rauner made calls for the death penalty to be imposed on convicted cop killers, but it was not reinstated.

Courts of Illinois

Courts of Illinois include:

State courts of Illinois

Supreme Court of IllinoisIllinois Appellate Court (5 districts)Illinois Circuit Courts (24 judicial circuits)Federal courts located in Illinois

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit (headquartered in Chicago, having jurisdiction over the United States District Courts of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin)

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois

United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois

United States District Court for the Southern District of IllinoisFormer federal courts of Illinois

United States District Court for the District of Illinois (extinct, subdivided in 1855)

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Illinois (extinct, reorganized in 1978)

Empress Casino Joliet Corp. v. Giannoulias

Empress Casino Joliet Corporation v. Giannoulias, 231 Ill.2d 62 (2008), is a case from Supreme Court of Illinois in which four casinos challenged a tax imposed by Public Act 94-804. The Act was challenged on the grounds that it was an unconstitutional taking. The Court held categorically that a tax could never be a taking within the meaning of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution.

Floyd Thompson (lawyer)

Floyd E. Thompson (December 25, 1887 – October 18, 1960) was a justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois and a criminal lawyer. He is perhaps best known for representing American businessman Samuel Insull, who in 1934 faced mail fraud and antitrust charges. Insull's verdict was not guilty.

Government of Illinois

The Government of Illinois, under the state’s constitution, has three branches of government: Executive, Legislative, and Judicial. The State's, executive branch is split into several statewide elected offices, with the Governor as chief executive and head of state, and has numerous departments, agencies, boards and commissions. Legislative functions are granted to the General Assembly, a bicameral body consisting of the 118-member House of Representatives and the 59-member Senate. The judiciary is composed of the Supreme Court of Illinois and lower courts.

Howard C. Ryan

Howard C. Ryan (born June 17, 1916 in Tonica, Illinois - died December 10, 2008 in Peru, Illinois) was an elected judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois from 1970 to 1990, and the Chief Justice of the court in 1982–1985.A native of Tonica, Howard C. Ryan grew up on a farm, and was educated at Tonica Schools, LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby Junior College, the University of Illinois and the University of Illinois College of Law. He was admitted to the practice of law on April 14, 1942. On May 5, 1943 Ryan enlisted to the U.S. Army Air Corps, 2nd Ferry Division Air Transport Command

and served as a radio operator for 43 months.After the war Ryan practiced law in Decatur, Illinois for one and a half years and later returned to LaSalle County, residing in Tonica and moving his practice to Peru. He was appointed a part-time assistant LaSalle County state's attorney in 1952 and was elected county judge in 1954. In 1957 he was elected circuit judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit, serving as chief judge from 1964-1968. He was elected to the 21-county 3rd District Appellate Court in 1968 and from that district was elected to the Supreme Court of Illinois in 1970. He served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois from January 1982 to January 1985. Ryan retired in 1990 after serving 36 years as a judge, including 20 years on the Illinois Supreme Court. After retiring, he served three years of counsel to the Chicago firm Peterson and Ross.Ryan issued a 1978 ruling in which he critiqued Illinois' death penalty and anticipated problems cited years later when Governor George H. Ryan ordered a sweeping review of capital punishment. In the beginning of his Supreme Court tenure (Carey v. Cousins, 1977) Ryan opposed the death penalty but later (People vs. Lewis, 1981) voted in favor of it. In a 1991 interview to the Chicago Tribune Ryan said that he came to have fewer doubts about capital punishment and accepted it as the law of the land.Ryan's wife since 1943, Helen (née Cizek), died in 2002. He is the father of H. Chris Ryan, Jr., Chief Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit of Illinois. Ryan was a member of the LaSalle County, Illinois State and American Bar Associations, the American Judicature Society, Phi Alpha Delta law fraternity, the Odd Fellows and the Elks, the Tonica United Methodist Church as well as a 33rd degree Mason.

Illinois Appellate Court

The Illinois Appellate Court is the court of first appeal for civil and criminal cases rising in the Illinois Circuit Courts. Three Illinois Appellate Court judges hear each case and the concurrence of two is necessary to render a decision. The Illinois Appellate Court will render its opinion in writing, in the form of a published opinion or an unpublished order. As of 1935, decisions of the Illinois Appellate Court became binding authority upon lower courts in Illinois.The Illinois Appellate Court has 52 judges serving five districts. The majority of the judges (18 in the First District, and between seven and nine in each of the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Districts) are elected, with the remaining judges having been appointed by the Supreme Court of Illinois.Civil cases appealed from the Illinois Appellate Court are heard by the Supreme Court of Illinois upon the grant of a Petition for Leave to Appeal under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 315, a Certificate of Importance under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 316, or a Petition for Appeal as a Matter of Right under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 317. The same rules apply to criminal cases.

Illinois circuit courts

The Illinois circuit courts are state courts of the U.S. state of Illinois. They are trial courts of original jurisdiction. There are 24 judicial circuits in the state, each comprising one or more of Illinois' 102 counties. The jurisdiction of six of these circuits courts are solely within the confines of a single county; these are Cook, Kane, Will, DuPage, Lake, and McHenry (all Chicago metropolitan area counties). The other 18 circuits each contain between two and 12 counties.

The circuit court has general jurisdiction and can decide, with few exceptions, any kind of case. (The exceptions are redistricting of the Illinois General Assembly and the ability of the governor of Illinois to serve or resume office.) The circuit court also shares jurisdiction with the Supreme Court of Illinois (the state supreme court) to hear cases relating to revenue, mandamus, prohibition, and habeas corpus. However, if the supreme court chooses to exercise its jurisdiction over these cases, the circuit court may not decide them. The circuit court also reviews administrative decisions of certain state agencies.

There are two kinds of judges in the circuit court: circuit judges and associate judges. Circuit judges are elected for six years, may be retained by voters for additional six-year terms, and can hear any kind of case. Circuit judges are elected on a circuit-wide basis or from the county where they reside.

In the Circuit Court of Cook County, which contains Chicago and is the largest of the 24 circuits in Illinois, circuit judges are elected from the entire county or as resident judges from each of the fifteen subcircuits within the county. Associate judges are appointed by circuit judges, under Supreme Court rules, for four-year terms. An associate judge can hear any case, except criminal cases punishable by a prison term of one year or more, unless the associate judge has received approval from the Supreme Court to hear other criminal cases.

Circuit judges in a circuit elect one of their members to serve as chief judge of the circuit court. Cases may be assigned to general or specialized divisions by the chief judge who has general administrative authority in the circuit, subject to the overall administrative authority of the Supreme Court.

Jacob W. Wilkin

Jacob Wilson Wilkin (June 7, 1837 – April 4, 1907) was an American jurist from Ohio who served for nineteen years as a Justice and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois. Arriving in Illinois at a young age, Wilkin graduated from McKendree College then enlisted to fight in the Civil War. He was mustered out with the rank of major and decided to pursue a career in law. Studying under future Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois John Scholfield. Wilkin was elected to the Illinois circuit courts in 1879, then advanced to the Illinois Appellate Court in 1885. In 1888, Wilkin was elected as a Republican to the Supreme Court of Illinois. He served there until his death in 1907.

Joseph N. Carter

Joseph Newton Carter (March 12, 1843 – February 6, 1913) was an American attorney and politician from Kentucky, United States. He spent most of his life in Quincy, Illinois, where he was a partner in a successful law practice. Carter was elected to two terms in the Illinois House of Representatives starting in 1878. He was elected to the Supreme Court of Illinois in 1894, serving one nine-year term.

Judiciary of Illinois

The Judiciary of Illinois is the unified court system of Illinois responsible for applying the Constitution and law of Illinois. It consists of the Supreme Court, Appellate Court, and circuit courts. The Supreme Court oversees the administration of the court system.

Justice Wilson

Justice Wilson may refer to:

United States Supreme CourtJames Wilson, an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme CourtU.S. state supreme courtsAlma Wilson, an Associate Justice and Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court

Donald R. Wilson, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia

Edward H. C. Wilson, an Associate Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court

Francis S. Wilson, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois

Joseph G. Wilson, an Associate Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court

Kenneth B. Wilson, an Associate Justice of the New Mexico Supreme Court

Michael D. Wilson, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii

Paul C. Wilson, a judge of the Supreme Court of Missouri

Samuel B. Wilson, a Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court

Scott Wilson (judge), Chief Justice of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court

Thomas Stokeley Wilson, a Judge of the Iowa Territorial Supreme Court

Thomas Wilson (Minnesota), an Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court

Will Wilson, an Associate Justice of the Texas Supreme Court

William C. Wilson (judge), an Associate Justice of the Vermont Supreme Court

William Roscoe Wilson Curl, an Associate Justice of the first Virginia Court of Appeals (now the Supreme Court of Virginia)

William Wilson (Illinois jurist), an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of IllinoisCourts of other countriesNicholas Wilson, Lord Wilson of Culworth, a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Bertha Wilson, a Puisne Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

Law of Illinois

The law of Illinois consists of several levels, including constitutional, statutory, and regulatory law, as well as case law and local law. The Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) form the general statutory law.

Lisa Madigan

Lisa Murray Madigan (born July 30, 1966) is an American lawyer and politician. A member of the Democratic Party, she served as Attorney General of the U.S. state of Illinois from 2003 to 2019, being the first woman to hold that position. She is also the stepdaughter of Michael Madigan, who has served as Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives since 1997.On September 15, 2017, Madigan announced that she would not seek re-election as the state’s attorney general in 2018, and was succeeded by State Senator Kwame Raoul.

Rita B. Garman

Rita B. Garman (born November 19, 1943) is an American judge. She is a current Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois. She represents the Fourth Judicial District on the Supreme Court. She was elected by her peers to serve a three-year term as Chief Justice from October 26, 2013 to October 25, 2016.

Robert R. Thomas

Robert Randall Thomas (born August 7, 1952) is a justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois and a former professional football player. He has served as the Illinois Supreme Court Justice for the Second District since December 4, 2000, and as Chief Justice from September 6, 2005 to September 5, 2008. His political affiliation is Republican.

Thomas L. Kilbride

Thomas L. Kilbride (born August 5, 1953) is an American judge currently serving on the Supreme Court of Illinois. Kilbride served as Chief Justice of the court from October 2010 through October 25, 2013. He was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court Justice for the Third District in 2000 and elected Chief Justice by his colleagues in October 2010 for a three-year term.

William Ledyard Stark

William Ledyard Stark (July 29, 1853 – November 11, 1922) was an American Populist Party politician.

Born in Mystic, Connecticut on July 29, 1853, Stark moved to Wyoming, Illinois, in 1872. He taught school and clerked a store for a while. He attended Union College of Law in Chicago, Illinois. He was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of Illinois in January 1878.

Stark moved to Aurora, Nebraska, in February 1878, serving as superintendent of city schools in Aurora. He became deputy district attorney and then judge of the Hamilton County Court in Hamilton County, Nebraska. He served in the Nebraska National Guard as a major and Judge Advocate General. He ran for the United States House of Representatives in 1895 and 1897 as a Populist, losing the first time and being elected the second to the 55th United States Congress. He was reelected to the 56th and 57th Congresses, serving from March 4, 1897 to March 3, 1903.

Stark ran for the United States Congress as a Fusionist in 1902, but lost. After leaving office in 1903, he retired to Aurora.

Stark died in Tarpon Springs, Florida on November 11, 1922. He is buried in the city cemetery in Aurora.

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