In force Jan.[January] 7, 1835.
AN ACT to establish a uniform mode of holding Circuit Courts.1
Five additional judges to be elected.
Sec.[Section] 1. Be it enacted by the people of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly, That there shall be elected by joint ballot of both branches of the General Assembly, at its present session, five judges in addition to the one now authorized by law, who shall preside in the several circuit courts now or hereafter authorized and required to be held in the several counties in this State; and shall exercise and possess such jurisdiction therein as is or may be allowed to the circuit courts in this State.2
Shall be commissioned by the Governor.
Part of law repealed.
Sec. 2. The said circuit judges, when thus elected, shall be commissioned by the Governor, and shall hold their offices during good behavior. The said judges shall reside in their respective circuits to which they may be assigned.
<Page 2>And all laws which require the judges of the supreme court to hold circuit courts so far as such requisition is concerned, are hereby repealed.3
Two terms of the supreme court annually.
Sec. 3. There shall be two terms of the supreme court held annually at the seat of Government.4
This act to be in force from and after its passage.
Approved, Jan. 7, 1835.
1On December 9, 1834, the Senate adopted a resolution instructing the Committee on the Judiciary to investigate the expediency of expanding the state’s judicial circuit court system. On December 11, William L. D. Ewing of the Committee on the Judiciary presented the committee’s report and introduced SB 8. The Senate passed the bill on December 19 by a vote of 15 yeas to 9 nays. On December 30, the House of Representatives referred the bill to the Committee of the Whole House. The Committee of the Whole reported back the bill without amendment, and the House passed the bill by a vote of 31 yeas to 23 nays, with Abraham Lincoln voting yea. On January 7, 1835, the Council of Revision approved the bill and the act became law.
Illinois House Journal. 1835. 9th G. A., 1st sess., 141, 146, 152, 174-75, 183-84, 222, 241, 245; Illinois Senate Journal. 1835. 9th G. A., 1st sess., 71, 82, 87, 102, 106-107, 108, 111, 116, 158, 192, 195, 201, 357, 497.
2In 1829, the Illinois General Assembly passed a law for the election, by the legislature, of one circuit court judge to hold regular court in the northern and western extremes of the state, an area that formed the 5th judicial circuit. Richard M. Young won election to that post, and the four Illinois Supreme Court justices presided over the other four judicial districts. This act and another act, passed a few days later, established six judicial districts, each with an elected circuit court judge. The new judicial system eliminated the need for supreme court justices to preside over circuit courts, thereby drawing clearer distinctions between the jurisdictions and roles of trial court judges and appellate justices in Illinois. The legislation addressed concerns, like those expressed by acting governor William L. D. Ewing in his message to the legislature in December 1834, that conflicts and difficulties often arose when one judge heard cases in his assigned circuit and then heard them on appeal as a justice of the supreme court.
“An Act Establishing a Circuit Court North of the Illinois River,” approved 8 January 1829, The Revised Code of Laws of Illinois (1829), 38-39; “An Act Regulating the Supreme and Circuit Courts,” approved 19 January 1829, The Revised Code of Laws of Illinois (1829), 39-47; P. G. Rennick, Courts and Lawyers in Northern and Western Illinois, rpt., Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society 30 (October 1837), 23.
3This act repealed section 14 of an 1829 law governing courts as well as another law that assigned supreme court justices to particular circuit courts.
“An Act Regulating the Supreme and Circuit Courts,” approved 19 January 1829, The Revised Code of Laws of Illinois (1829), 42-43; “An Act Supplemental to the Act, Entitled ‘An Act Regulating the Supreme and Circuit Courts,’ Approved, January 19, 1829,” approved 23 January 1829, The Revised Code of Laws of Illinois(1829), 48-53.
Printed Document, 2 page(s),
Laws of the State of Illinois, Passed by the Ninth General Assembly, at their First Session (Vandalia, IL:
J. Y. Sawyer, 1835), 150-51, GA Session: 9-1,