Illinois Judicial Eligibility Amendment (2010)

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Illinois Judicial Eligibility Amendment did not appear on the November 2, 2010 ballot in Illinois as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The measure proposed amending the qualification standards for judges in Illinois. If it had been approved, in order to be eligible for the circuit court a person would have had to be a licensed attorney-at-law for at least ten years. The requirement for an appellate judge would have been 12 years and for a Supreme Court judge 15. The proposal, also known as HJRCA 57, was sponsored by Rep. Michael Madigan.[1]

Ballot summary

The proposed summary as it was filed read:[2]

Proposes to amend the Judiciary Article of the Illinois Constitution. Provides that a person must have been a licensed attorney-at-law for a minimum of ten years to be eligible to serve as a Circuit Judge, a minimum of twelve years to be eligible to serve as an Appellate Judge, and a minimum of fifteen years to be eligible to serve as a Supreme Court Judge, except that a person serving as a Judge on December 31, 2010 is not disqualified from completing the current term of office or seeking an additional term. Effective upon being declared adopted.


Supporters argued that the proposed legislation would have ensured that someone wouldn't be able to become a judge without the appropriate knowledge. Rep. John Fritchey said, "This would ensure that we have qualified people on the bench. The reality is that, all too often, voters simply look at surnames of judicial candidates without qualifications."[3]

  • The Illinois State Bar Association board of directors voted unanimously to support the measure's proposed requirements, according to executive director David Anderson.[3]
  • Ron Spears, president of the Illinois Judges Association, said the proposed changes would have been "in the best interest of judges." Spears added,"I think it is important to have highly qualified judges – experience is critical."[3]


  • Andrew Leipold, a professor of law at the University of Illinois, said the requirements under the proposed amendment would have most likely not have had a huge impact on quality. Leipold said, "There are people who have practiced for just a few years but have done very intense and sophisticated work that would give them lots of experience relevant to judges. And then there are those who have been practicing for 20 years but with a narrow kind of work that could make them an expert on a certain subject, but doesn’t mean they have the experience needed to become a judge."[4]

Path to the ballot

See also: How to amend the Illinois Constitution

Had both the House and the Senate approved the proposed amendment, the measure would have appeared on the November 2010 statewide ballot.

On March 23, 2010 House Speaker Madigan postponed the House vote after it appeared that the proposal would fail to pass following a preliminary vote in which the measure fell short.[5] The proposed amendment required 3/5 approval from both houses.[6]

See also

External links

Additional reading