Illinois Has One Appellate Court

Illinois Appellate Court MapI am surprised at the number of Illinois attorneys who do not know that Illinois has one appellate court. Yes the appellate court is divided into districts, and the first district is further divided into divisions. But the Illinois Supreme Court has long held that all the divisions and subdivisions should be seen as one court. [People v. Layhew, 139 Ill.2d 476, 489-90 (Ill. 1990); People v. Granados, 172 Ill. 2d 358, 371 (Ill. 1996)].

What does this mean? It means, a decision from any district appellate court is binding on circuit courts outside of that district unless there is a conflicting opinion from the appellate court of the district where the circuit court sits. [Schmidt v. Ameritech Illinois, 329 Ill. App. 3d 1020 (Ill.App. 1st Dist. 2001)]. For example, a decision from the Fifth District Appellate Court is binding on the 18th Circuit Court—which sits in the Second District—unless it conflicts with a Second District case.

This is different from the federal court system. There appellate courts are labeled circuit courts, whereas Illinois State Appellate Courts are labeled district courts. In the Federal system appellate decisions are not binding on district courts (trial level in the federal system) outside of the circuit.

2 Replies to “Illinois Has One Appellate Court”

  1. Eric, a few of us were debating this very issue last night at JN practice. This post is such a succinct answer to our issue. Great post!

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