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Circuit Court | State of Illinois Office of the Illinois Courts

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In Illinois, the circuit court is the court of original jurisdiction. There are 25 judicial circuits in the state, of which seven are single county circuits (Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry, St. Clair and Will). and the remaining eighteen circuits comprise as few as two and as many as twelve counties each.

Except for redistricting of the general assembly and ruling on the ability of the governor to serve or resume office, the circuit court has jurisdiction for all matters properly brought before it. 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 a case of these types, the circuit court loses jurisdiction. The circuit court is also the reviewing court for certain state agency administrative orders. 

There are two types of judges in the circuit court: circuit judges and associate judges.

Associate judges are appointed by circuit judges of that circuit, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 39, for four-year terms. An associate judge can hear any matters deemed suitable by the chief judge or designated
circuit judge.

Circuit judges in a circuit elect one of their members to serve as chief circuit court judge. The chief circuit judge has general administrative authority in the circuit, subject to the overall administrative authority of the Supreme Court. The chief judge can assign cases to general or specialized divisions within the circuit.