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State of Illinois

Methods of Judicial Selection: Illinois

Selection of Judges

Number of Judgeships
Supreme Court: 7
Appellate Court: 42
Circuit Court: 513*
Number of Districts/Circuits
Supreme Court: 5
Appellate Court: 5
Circuit Court: 22
Geographic Basis for Selection
Supreme Court: district**
Appellate Court: district***
Circuit Court: circuit/county****
Method of Selection (full term)
Supreme Court: partisan election
Appellate Court: partisan election
Circuit Court: partisan election
Length of Term
Supreme Court: 10 yrs
Appellate Court: 10 yrs
Circuit Court: 6 yrs
Method of Retention
Supreme Court: retention election*****
Appellate Court: retention election*****
Circuit Court: retention election*****
Length of Subsequent Terms
Supreme Court: 10 yrs
Appellate Court: 10 yrs
Circuit Court: 6 yrs
Method of Filling Interim Vacancies
Supreme Court: supreme court appointment
Appellate Court: supreme court appointment
Circuit Court: supreme court appointment
When Interim Judges Stand for Election/Appointment
Supreme Court: next general election more than 60 days after appointment
Appellate Court: next general election more than 60 days after appointment
Circuit Court: next general election more than 60 days after appointment
Selection of Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: peer vote
Appellate Court: peer vote
Circuit Court: peer vote
Term of Office for Chief Judge/Justice
Supreme Court: 3 yrs
Appellate Court: 1 yr
Circuit Court: indefinite
Qualifications
Supreme Court: U.S. citizen; district resident; licensed to practice law in state
Appellate Court: U.S. citizen; district resident; licensed to practice law in state
Circuit Court: U.S. citizen; circuit/county resident; licensed to practice law in state

Selection and retention methods and term lengths are prescribed by Article VI of the Illinois Constitution. 

*Circuit courts are also served by 391 associate judges who are appointed by circuit judges for four-year terms.

**Three justices are elected at large from the first district (Cook County) and one from each of the other four districts.

***Eighteen judges are elected from the first district (Cook County) and six from each of the other four districts. Additional judges may be assigned on a temporary basis by the supreme court.

****Circuit judges are elected on a circuit-wide basis or from the county where they reside. In Cook County, circuit judges are elected from the entire county or as resident judges from one of the fifteen subcircuits within the county.

*****Judges must receive at least 60% affirmative votes to be retained.