9497252703_7c15a1c787_zThe most fundamental rule of appellate jurisdiction in Illinois is Supreme Court Rule 301, which makes “[e]very final judgment of a circuit court” appealable “as of right.”  Rule 301 operates in cases which have passed through the appellate system in the usual way, first being decided by one of the five districts of the Appellate Court.  Rule 302 deals with a small subset of decisions which skip the intermediate step.  Under Rule 302(a), when a Circuit Court strikes down a state or Federal statute, the appeal goes directly to the Supreme Court.  Rule 302(b) gives the Court discretion to order a case transferred directly from the Appellate Court to it in cases “in which the public interest requires prompt adjudication by the Supreme Court.”

A number of different rules address different types of interlocutory appeals, for the most part paralleling the Federal rules.  Rule 304 authorizes appeals from “a final judgment” as to one or more, but fewer than all claims or parties in the case.  Bringing such an appeal requires that the trial judge add what Illinois lawyers call “Rule 304 language” to his or her order – an express finding that there is no just reason for delaying the appeal.  Rules 306 and 307 deal with interlocutory appeals in certain specific types of cases, such as orders granting a new trial, orders on forum non conveniens motions or orders transferring venue (Rule 306) and orders granting, modifying or refusing an injunction or appointing or refusing to appoint a receiver (Rule 307).  Rule 308 is the Illinois analog to the federal 1292(b) appeal, authorizing review of “a question of law as to which there is substantial ground for difference of opinion” when an immediate appeal “may materially advance the ultimate termination of the litigation.”  Rule 20 is similar, authorizing the Court to agree to decide questions of state law certified to it by the United States Supreme Court or the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.[1]

The remaining sources of the Court’s jurisdiction contribute only a minor portion of its docket.  Rule 335 and several provisions of various Codes authorize the appellate courts to hear appeals from decisions of regulatory agencies.[2]  Rules 381 and 382 describe the Court’s original jurisdiction, authorizing petitions for writ of mandamus under several specific circumstances, including disputes over revenue, redistricting and the duties of officers of the government.

During the first years of the last decade, Rule 301 appeals accounted for between sixty and seventy percent of the Court’s civil docket, with the remainder of the docket relatively stable from year to year:


In our next post, we’ll address the sources of appellate jurisdiction in the Court’s civil cases from 2005-2009.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Richie Diesterheft (no changes).

[1]           Like many states, Illinois law provides no mechanism for the Supreme Court to accept certified questions from Federal district courts.

[2]           Regulatory appeals taken directly to the Appellate Court are the exception rather than the rule in Illinois.  Thus, this data should not be taken as a reflection of the importance (or lack of importance) of administrative law to the Court’s docket.  The more routine route for an administrative appeal would be to a Circuit Court in the first instance – most often, the Circuit Court in either Sangamon or Cook County – and then to the Appellate Court.  These cases would be reported as Rule 301 appeals.