Illinois Court Records

Why Illinois Court Records are Available to the Public

In late 1800, the Illinois State Legislature pass a law named the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. This law was enabled with the last changes in July 1984 and aims to ensure disclosure of court records and other public records to the public.

What Court Records Access Means To You

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public is provided access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Illinois. The law was first enacted in 1984, but the latest law was enacted in August 2009 and went into effect on January 1, 2010.

Accountability to the Public

When the legislature enacted the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, it expressively declared that access to information concerning the conduct of the people’s business is a fundamental and necessary right of every person in this state, https://ballotpedia.org/Illinois_FOIA_procedures. In Illinois, access to government and court records in particular has been deemed a fundamental interest in citizenship and has emphasized that maximum disclosure of the conduct of governmental operations [is] to be promoted by the act to anyone who requests the information. By providing such prompt public access to government records, people’s conduct, and any legal information, the Illinois Freedom of Information Act intends to function as an open government to the people it governs and safeguard government accountability.

How the Illinois Court Process Functions

Most cases in Illinois courts begin in one of the 102 superior or trial courts located in each of the state’s 102 counties.

The next level of judicial authority resides with the Courts of Appeals. Most cases brought before the Courts of Appeals involves the review of a superior court decision being contested by a party involved in the case. The legislature divided the state geographically into six appellate districts.

The Supreme Court serves as the highest court in the state and has discretion to review decisions of the Courts of Appeals in order to settle disputes with interpreting law per the Illinois State Constitution and to resolve conflicts among the Courts of Appeals.

Some differences between Civil Court and Small Claims Court

 

Small Claims

Civil

Appeal

Only the party who was sued can file an appeal; the person who filed the claim cannot appeal

Either party can appeal

Attorney Representation

You cannot have a lawyer file your claim or go to court with you, except for an appeal

You can have a lawyer file your papers and go to court for you

Filling fee for either defendant or plaintiff’s claim

$30 to $100 per claim

$180 to $320 per claim

Pre-trial discovery allowed

No

Yes

How long to complete your case

30-70 days after the complaint

120 days after you file the complaint

 You do not have to be a U.S. citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you do not speak English well, it is advisable to bring someone who speaks English to court with you and ask the judge if that person can serve as your interpreter. The court cannot provide you an interpreter.

You can find an interpreter by using the Illinois Courts Interpreter Search page. Also see the webpage with interpreter information on this website http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/civiljustice/LanguageAccess/default.asp.

How Illinois Court Records Are Structured

The court records category is made up of civil and small claims matters.

Civil cases are matters where the petitioner is seeking more than $250,000. Civil cases also include other types of disputes that do not involve money, such as cases to resolve title to real property, cases asking for civil restraining orders and requests to change your name or your child’s name.

Small Claims Court filings are cases where the petitioner is seeking $10,000 or less and is not represented by counsel. Close to 300,000 small claims cases are filed statewide every year.

Here are some examples of common Small Claims Court cases:

  • Any personal injury that will not exceed $10,000.
  • Breach of contract that will not exceed $10,000.
  • Property damage that will not exceed $10,000.
  • All evictions, regardless of the amount of rent claimed.
  • Your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid.
  • Someone dents your fender and refuses to pay for repairs.
  • Your new TV does not work, and the store will not fix it.
  • Your tenant caused damage to the apartment, and the repairs cost more than their security deposit (Note: You cannot use small claims court to evict someone.).
  • You lent money to a friend, and he/she refuses to pay you back.
  • Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as the claim is also asking for money. For example, the court can cancel a contract or the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or order them to return it to you right away.
Illinois State Archives

Illinois State Archives

Results Include

Full State Record Report:

  • Name
  • Location
  • Case Number
  • Case Summary
  • Docket
  • Police Report
  • Court Documents
  • Legal Records
  • Case File
  • Statements
  • Transcripts
  • Legal Forms
  • Case Notes
  • Disposition
  • Trial Records
  • Arbitration
  • Case Evidence
  • Witnesses
  • Interviews
  • Descriptions
  • Mugshots
  • Charges
  • Legal Motions
  • Attorney Records
  • Prosecution Records
Illinois Washington County  Courthouse

Illinois Washington County Courthouse

  • State Archives hold over 1,000 cubic feet of records.
  • There are 2 levels of Courts: appellate and circuit/ trial.
  • There are 24 judicial circuits in the state, each comprising one or more of Illinoois' 102 counties.
  • The Illinois Appellate Court has fifty-four judges serving five districts
  • The highest Court in Illinois is Illinois Supreme Court.
  • The Supreme Court of Illinois is the state supreme court and consists of seven justices including a chief justice
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