Illinois: Bill expands 2012 Judicial Privacy Law to cover retired judges as well

In 2012 the Illinois legislature enacted HB 5877, the Judicial Privacy Act, to prevent the release of personal information related to judges and their immediate families, allowing “judicial officers…to administer justice fairly without fear of personal reprisal from individuals affected by the decisions they make in the course of carrying out their public function.”

The law defined the “judicial officers” covered to include federal and state judges. Retired judges of these courts were not covered. SB 1647 of 2017, as approved unanimously by the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 8, would expand this coverage to include the “actively employed and retired” judicial officers of these courts.

SB 1647 has been placed on the Senate’s 2nd Reading Calendar.

Illinois: bill would require judges announce daily & clerks must post in courtrooms that a complaint can be filed against the judge with the judicial disciplinary commission

A bill introduced last week in the Illinois House would require judges make an announcement on a daily basis in their court about the existence of the state’s judicial disciplinary body (thanks to a Gavel to Gavel reader for the pointer).

HB 3054 as filed contains 3 elements

  1. All Circuit Judges must announce that a person can file a complaint against him or her with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Board prior to calling the first case of the day.
  2. The Clerk of the Circuit Court must make a Judicial Inquiry Board complaint form with instructions available.
  3. The Clerk must also post within each courtroom a notice that a person may file a complaint against the judge and that instructions for filing a complaint may be obtained from the clerk.

The posting requirement is similar to a 2008 Tennessee bill (HB 3906 / SB 4053) although that version would have placed the notice just outside the courtroom. The Tennessee plan was introduced but never taken up in either chamber.

Illinois HB 3054 has been filed in the House Rules Committee.

NC: So how many other states/courts elect their appellate judges in a partisan manner? It’s complicated.

Amid the debate on SB 4 today and the decision to switch North Carolina’s Supreme Court and Court of Appeals from nonpartisan to partisan races, there’s been a good amount of discussion of how many other states and appellate courts have partisan elections. Numbers have ranged widely. The reason for this is fairly straight forward in that for many states it is not a straight forward answer.

There are 8 states with 9 courts in which at one point or another justices of the supreme court/court of last resort show up with a party label somehow. It was 9 states with 10 courts until 2015 when West Virginia ended partisan races for their Supreme Court of Appeals.

  1. Alabama: partisan primaries and partisan general elections.
  2. Illinois: partisan primaries, partisan general elections but only for the first election. If a person does get elected to the Illinois Supreme Court, the next time they are up they are put into a yes/no retention election, however to stay in office they need to get a 60% “yes to retain” vote.
  3. Louisiana: The state uses a “blanket primary” in which all candidates appear with party labels on the primary ballot. The two top votegetters compete in the general election. Thus in the general election, you could have two Republicans vying against each other for the seat, as occurred most recently in 2016 when Republican James “Jimmy” Genovese defeated fellow Republican Marilyn Castle for the 3rd Supreme Court District (Louisiana elects their justices by district, not statewide).
  4. Michigan: candidates for Supreme Court are nominated by political parties but the actual ballot in November is nonpartisan (i.e. no party labels).
  5. New Mexico: very complicated. When a vacancy occurs on the New Mexico Supreme Court, it is initially filled via merit selection (nominating commission sends list of names to governor, governor picks). The newly appointed justice must then run in a partisan primary and partisan general election but only for the first election. If a person does get elected to the New Mexico Supreme Court, the next time they are up they are put into a yes/no retention election, however to stay in office they need to get a 57% “yes to retain” vote.
  6. Ohio: Partisan primaries, but nonpartisan general elections.
  7. Pennsylvania: partisan primaries, partisan general elections but only for the first election. If a person does get elected to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the next time they are up they are put into a yes/no retention election (50% “yes to retain” to remain in office).
  8. Texas: Everything is bigger in Texas, including their appellate courts. Texas has two “courts of last resort”: the Supreme Court for civil matters and the Court of Criminal Appeals. Both courts use partisan primaries and partisan general elections.

Illinois: even more bills to allow judges & prosecutors to bring guns into courthouses filed

The latest is a series of legislative efforts to life the ban on judges and others from carrying guns into courthouses (other bills discussed here and here) have been filed. These latest efforts, like prior bills, continue to make a distinction between courthouse and courtroom carry.

Current law provides for a broad ban on guns in courthouses. HB 5713 would amended the criminal statutes (720 ILCS 5/24-2) to allow for courthouse carry for

  1. a retired law enforcement office
  2. the Attorney General or assistant Attorney General with the consent of the Attorney General
  3. State’s Attorney or assistant State’s Attorney with the consent of the State’s Attorney
  4. State court judge, or retired State court judge

The chief judge (Circuit Court) or presiding judge (Appellate Court) or the Chief Justice (Supreme Court) would only be able to issue restrictions or prohibitions on carrying into courtrooms.

SB 3006 effectively repeats SB 1637 as introduced: a judge, State’s Attorney or assistant State’s Attorney who has a concealed carry firearm license could carry into the courthouse but not a courtroom. The judge or prosecutor seeking to enter into the courtroom would be required to put the weapon into a locker provided by the sheriff or, if the building was controlled by the judiciary, the presiding judge.

Illinois becomes fifth state to consider term limits for judges this year; Florida House to vote on plan next week

A plan introduced in the Illinois House last week calls for elected state and local officials to be term limited, but with a unique proviso for the judiciary.

HCA 53 provides state legislators and executive branch officials are to be limited to 3 consecutive terms. Local governments would be authorized to implement term limits laws that would apply locally.

With respect to the judiciary, however, the bill leaves term limits to the courts themselves.

Judges shall have the authority to implement term limits for any elected judge.

Illinois now joins Florida (appellate courts), Oklahoma (Supreme Court only), Washington (Supreme Court only), and West Virginia (all elected officials) in considering some kind of judicial term limits in 2016. The Florida proposal (HJR 197), which would apply only to appellate judges, is set for a vote by the House February 23 and would requires a 3/5ths vote of the full House to advance.

Illinois: House bills allow judges, prosecutors to carry firearms into courthouses; Senate version would still ban courtroom carry by judges

I mentioned last spring an effort in the Illinois Senate to allow judges to carry guns into their own courthouses but continue the practice of courtroom bans. Now the Illinois House is considering similar legislation.

Current law provides for a broad ban on guns in courthouses.

430 ILCS 66/65(a)(4) A [concealed carry] licensee under this Act shall not knowingly carry a firearm on or into…Any building designated for matters before a circuit court, appellate court, or the Supreme Court, or any building or portion of a building under the control of the Supreme Court.

HB 5518 would provide exceptions for a list of people, including

  1. correctional officers
  2. state trial and appellate judges
  3. federal trial and appellate judges
  4. State’s Attorney
  5. Assistant State’s Attorney with the consent of the State’s Attorney

HB 5792 would provide a narrower exception

  1. state trial judges (Circuit and Associate Circuit judges) would be allowed to carry both in the courthouse and into courtrooms
  2. prosecutors (State’s Attorney and Assistant State’s Attorney) would be allowed to carry in the courthouse but would have to store the firearm in a storage locker provided by the sheriff or chief judge when entering a courtroom

HB 5792 differs in the treatment of judges vs. the Senate version (SB 1637) which would allow judges to only carry into a courthouse but would maintain the ban on carrying into a courtroom.

HB 5518 and HB 5792 are in the House Rules Committee. SB 1637 is in the Senate Assignments Committee.



Illinois Legislative Year in Review: court interpreters in civil cases; supreme court may issue law licenses to non-citizens here under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program


HB 299 Provides that no court security officer shall be subject to the jurisdiction of a Sheriff’s Merit Commission unless the officer was hired through the Sheriff’s Merit Commission’s certified applicant process.

HB 3620 Provides that whenever any person is a party or witness in a civil action in this State, the court shall, upon its own motion or that of a party, determine whether the person is capable of understanding the English language and is capable of expressing himself or herself in the English language so as to be understood directly by counsel, court, or jury.

HB 3933 Provides that the Illinois Access to Civil Justice Council shall develop (instead of the “General Assembly encourages the Supreme Court to develop”) specified pilot programs.

SB 23 Specifies Supreme Court may grant license to practice law to persons who are non-citizens or who are in the country due to deferred action under President Obama’s deferred action for childhood arrivals (“DACA”) program.