Major Court Systems

Speeding tickets or shoplifting, writing bad checks or battery are all crimes, and all of these are reasons why a person would be in court. For those that do not agree with the outcome there are appeals. Different offenses committed within the Chicago area require different types of court. Not all courts hear all types of cases. There is a municipal court, city court, trial court, the Appellate Court and the Supreme Court. This paper will discuss these types of court and what they specialize in. Illinois Judicial Organization (18th Judicial Circuit Court, DuPage County, 2009) A municipal court is a trial court that deals only with cases that involve violations of ordinances within that specific city. A couple examples of the types of cases a municipal court hears are traffic cases, disorderly conduct, vandalism, loitering, shop lifting, building codes, health codes, drunk driving and even assault and battery. Municipal courts do not have jurisdiction over felony cases. Receiving a finding of guilty does not mean the road ends there. If you are found guilty, all actions within the municipal court can be appealed. The appeal must be requested by the City Attorney or the defendant. These appeals are heard at the Circuit Court. The public can access all the municipal court records, with the exception of juvenile cases. This means that any person or employer has access to obtain a background on anyone in that municipality. Illinois Circuit Courts The Circuit Court is a court of general jurisdiction. This means it has jurisdiction in all he matters except those that are cases where the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction. The Circuit court hears a variety of cases, from civil to criminal, from small claims to domestic violence, and includes felonies. The Circuit Court for DuPage County is located in Wheaton, Illinois on County Farm Road (18th Judicial Circuit Court, 2009). The Circuit Judges re-elected for a six year term, and after the sixth year, they must run circuit-wide for retention (18th Judicial Circuit Court, 2009). The Circuit Judges are responsible for electing a Chief Judge by using specific guidelines that are established by local court rules. The Chief Judge is responsible for providing administrative guidance to the entire circuit. The Associate Judges are appoint on a merit base by the Circuit Judges which lasts for four years, and at the end of the four years, are considered by the Circuit Judges for retention (18th Judicial Circuit Court, 2009). Associate Judges hear all types of cases except felony cases. In order for an Associate Judge to hear a felony case, they must obtain approval from the Supreme Court (18th Judicial Circuit Court, 2009). Illinois Appellate Court The Illinois Appellate Court is divided into five Judicial Districts (Illinois Courts, 2008). The First Judicial District is Cook County, and all the rest of the state is divided into the other four judicial districts, each of nearly equal populations. The first district is based in Chicago, the second in Elgin, the third in Ottawa, the fourth in Springfield, and the fifth is in Mt. Vernon (Illinois Courts, 2008). The Illinois Appellate Court is the first court to hear an appeal. These appeals can be on civil or criminal cases which were originally heard in Illinois Circuit Courts. Each case is heard by three Appellate Court judges, and two of the three judges must concur in order to render a decision. The opinion is in written form, that of a published opinion. The Illinois Appellate Court is the binding authority on lower courts in Illinois (Illinois Courts, 2008). Supreme Court of Illinois The Supreme Court of Illinois is the highest judicial court in the United States. Article VI of the Illinois Constitution grants the Supreme Courts authority (United States Supreme Court, 2008). The Supreme Court is made up of seven justices who are elected from the five appellate judicial districts of the state. The district which includes Cook County provides three justices, and the remaining four districts elect one per district. Each of the justices is elected for a 10 year term, while the chief justice is elected by the courts members for a term of three years (United States Supreme Court, 2008). The Supreme Court of Illinois has limited original jurisdiction and hears appeals in death penalty cases or cases where the constitutional rights have been questioned. The Supreme Court does not concern itself with any new evidence in a case, but instead, focuses only on the case that has already been tried and the information and testimony from that case and whether or not prejudicial errors have been committed (Encyclopedia. com, 2009). The Supreme Court will affirm, vacate, modify, or reverse the ruling from the lower court, and the decision is given via written opinions (Encyclopedia. com, 2009). Conclusion Regardless of the offense committed, or where it was committed, there is a court waiting to see you. The Municipal Court will deal with your case for speeding, while the Circuit Court will provide you with a trial for stealing. If you don’t like the outcome, the Appellate Court will listen and make a decision if a new trial is warranted. Even if the decision from the Appellate Court is not acceptable, there is always the highest court in the nation, the Supreme Court.