Most news gathering related to the judiciary is with the Circuit Courts in Illinois. These courts hear all types of civil and criminal cases ranging from small claims to murder.
The courts are divided into 24 circuits and as the State Courts Website indicates, the circuit court has jurisdiction for all matters brought before it with the exception of legislative redistricting and ruling on whether a governor can serve or resume serving in office.
The Circuit Court shares jurisdiction with the Supreme Court to hear cases relating to revenue, mandamus, prohibition, and habeas corpus. If the Supreme Court chooses to exercise its authority in cases of these types, the Circuit Court loses jurisdiction. The Circuit Court is also the reviewing court for certain state agency administrative orders.
For those new to court coverage, a good place to start is the Circuit Clerk’s office in your local courthouse. That is where you may see lawsuits that have been filed and scheduled criminal and civil court procedures. Many also offer computer access to some of the records. You should also become familiar with staff in the Circuit Judges’ office, the State’s Attorneys office and read all postings on courthouse bulletin boards. A number of circuit clerk’s offices now make available information about court filings on line. Remember: Don’t Be Afraid To Ask About What You Don’t Know. Part of the job of the people working there is to assist you.