If you have been involved in a lawsuit or legal proceeding, you know how stressful it is to worry about the outcome. However, it is beneficial to understand that the legal system is set up with checks and balances. For example, if you are involved in a divorce proceeding and the court makes a ruling that you feel is inconsistent with the statutory guidelines or case law, you may appeal that decision to the appellate court. If the appellate court does not change the ruling to your liking, you may ask the Illinois Supreme Court to review the lower court’s ruling. The Illinois Supreme Court is the state’s highest court, which also supervises and administers the state’s judicial system. As part of its duties, the supreme court supervises more than 1,000 circuit court judges and more than 50 appellate court judges to ensure decisions are consistent with Illinois statutes and case law.
Judges at all three levels, the circuit court, the appellate court, and the supreme court, are appointed or elected in partisan elections.
With respect to the Illinois Supreme Court, the court consists of seven justices who are chosen by popular vote in partisan elections and serve a ten-year term. After the initial ten-year term, they are on the ballot in an uncontested, nonpartisan election to continue serving. The Illinois Supreme Court justices are elected from five different judicial districts. Three of the Supreme Court justices are elected from the 1st District (Cook County), and one Supreme Court justice is elected from each of the other four districts.
The 2nd Judicial District includes Lake County, McHenry County, DeKalb County, Kane County, and Kendall County. On November 8, the voters of the 2nd District will be asked to elect a new supreme court justice because of the retirement of former Justice Robert R. Thomas. The two candidates for the 2nd District vacancy are Elizabeth M. Rochford (D) and Mark Curran (R).
Nobody wants to be involved in the legal process; however, if you are, you will realize how important it is to have qualified and competent individuals serving as judges. Many people, even practicing attorneys, are not fully informed about the candidates running for judge. As the 2022 election approaches, it is vital that voters know as much as possible about each candidate’s qualifications and competency, especially for the Supreme Court as it is the court of last resort for issues regarding Illinois state law.
Elizabeth Rochford is a Lake County associate judge who has been “highly recommended” by the Illinois Bar Association for the 2nd District Supreme Court vacancy.