Illinois is split into 23 judicial districts for Circuit Courts. Each district covers at least one county, and some include up to twelve contiguous counties. Six of the circuits are located in a single county. Circuit Courts are the general jurisdiction trial courts for the state. These courts have authority over all civil and criminal matters except those that fall under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. They hear a wide variety of types of cases including small claims, domestic abuse, and criminal felonies.
Circuit Courts have two types of judges: Circuit Judges and Associate Judges. To qualify to be a Circuit Court judge, a person must first be a licensed attorney. These judges are elected into a six-year term. After that, they must run to be re-elected to another six-year term. They must also be a resident of the circuit they are elected into. All Circuit Court Judges elect a Chief Judge who then provides administrative guidance to the whole circuit. Illinois Associate Judges are appointed by Circuit Court Judges for 5- year terms. Associate Judges can hear most types of cases except for felonies. In those situations, they first need approval from the Supreme Court.
The Circuit Court receives its funding from money that come from the Mandatory Arbitration Program, salaries, and benefits of judges and court reporters and funds that provide reimbursement to counties that offset Court Services programs such as probation and county revenues.
To make things work smoothly Circuit Court judges and other court personnel work closely with the County Board and County Administrator's Office in terms of budgeting, personnel management, automation, building maintenance and purchasing.
On average Circuit Courts see 74,000 felony cases, 20,000 juvenile cases, 65,000 family cases, and 40,000 chancery cases per year.