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Appeals to the Illinois Supreme Court Explained | Illinois Supreme Court Rules

Article written by Illinois & Iowa Attorney Kevin O'Flaherty
Updated on
November 1, 2019

In this article we will explain appeals to the Illinois Supreme Court.  Let’s start by explaining the structure of the Illinois court system.  

The Illinois Court System Explained

In Illinois, cases begin in one of the County circuit courts.  Judgments from the circuit court are appealable to the Illinois appellate courts.  The Illinois Supreme Court has discretion to hear appeals from the appellate courts.  To learn more about appeals from the circuit courts to the appellate court, check out our article, The Illinois Appeals Process Explained.  

What Are Your Options if You Lose Your Case in the Illinois Appellate Court?

If you lose your case in an appellate court after appealing from the circuit court and you do not want to concede,  you have two options:

  1. File a petition for rehearing with the appellate court; or
  2. File a petition for leave to appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court.  

These options are not mutually exclusive.  They can be pursued at the same time, or you can pursue a petition for rehearing with the appellate court first, and later file a petition for leave to appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court if the petition for rehearing is denied.

When Will the Illinois Appellate Court Grant a Petition for Rehearing?

When Will the Illinois Appellate Court Grant a Petition for Rehearing?

A petition for rehearing requests that the appellate court reconsider its final ruling on your case.  Petitions for rehearing are only granted if you can show that:

  • The appellate court has misunderstood a material fact in your case;
  • The appellate court has misapplied the law; or
  • The law has changed since the case was decided.  

The deadline to file a petition for rehearing is 21 days from the date of the order you are asking the court to reconsider.  

What is a Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court?

A petition for leave to appeal requests that the Illinois Supreme Court hear your appeal of the appellate court’s decision.  

What is the Deadline to File a Petition for Leave to Appeal with Supreme Court of Illinois?

A petition for leave to appeal must be filed by the latest of the following:

  • 35 days from the appellate court order in question;
  • 35 days from the denial of the petition for rehearing if one was filed; or
  • If a motion to publish an unpublished order, known as a Rule 23 order, is filed, 35 days from the date that the opinion is published.  

The Supreme Court has discretion to grant a motion for leave to file a petition for leave to appeal after tese deadlines, but such motions are not favored and are only allowed in the most extreme and compelling circumstances.   

When Will the Illinois Supreme Court Grant a Petition for Leave to Appeal?

The Illinois Supreme Court is more likely to grant a petition for leave to appeal in the following circumstances:

  • The appealed opinion is in conflict with an opinion from another division of the appellate court;
  • If the issue is generally important, meaning that it has a broad application to other cases, such as interpretation of a statute, changing legal trends, newsworthy issues, or an issue of first impression.

What Happens if a Petition for Leave to Appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court is Granted?

If a petition for leave to appeal is granted, the petitioner has an option to file a brief in support of the petition.  The brief is usually a more extensive explanation of the petitioner’s position than the petition itself.  The petitioner, also known as the appellant, must provide notice to all counsel of record within 14 days of the date that the petition for leave to appeal was granted of his or her intention to file a brief or to alternatively let the petition stand as his or her brief.  The appellee will also have the option to file a brief in response.  Once both briefs are filed, the Illinois Supreme Court will either make a ruling based on the briefs or request that the parties appear before the court for oral argument.  

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