Courts, Divisions, Venues, and Levels

As part of the description of a case, editors identified the court, or courts, in which a case was heard, and the division (criminal, common law, chancery, probate, bankruptcy, admiralty). If a case was heard in more than one court, each successive level of court is detailed. For those courts which do not have divisions, that field is left blank (e.g., supreme courts).

In the detail provided for each of the courts in which a particular case was heard, editors have indicated the court of origin and the court of judgment. Because most cases began and ended in the same court, these courts are usually the same. The court of origin and the court of judgment will differ if the venue was changed. For example, a case which began in Sangamon County Circuit Court that went to the Menard County Circuit Court on a change of venue will have a court of origin of Sangamon County Circuit Court and a court of judgment as Menard County Circuit Court. Sometimes venues changed more than once. In the example above, if the venue changed again from Menard County Circuit Court to the Christian County Circuit Court, then the court of judgment would be Christian County Circuit Court and the other venue would be Menard County Circuit Court. The court of origin remained as Sangamon County Circuit Court. Changes of venues usually occurred between courts of the same type (e.g. circuit court to another circuit court.) Cases typically moved from one type of court to another type of court by appeal or writ of error.

Court Levels as we have used this term, is generally comparable with the hierarchy of courts and jurisdictions. It is also an abstract tool the editors used to organize some complex cases. Injunctions were filed by litigants as stand-alone actions and also as part of another legal action. For those injunctions that were part of another legal action, the editors generally treated them as part of the process of the original action and did not separate them out. However, in some cases, the judgment in the injunction, which was not the original action, was appealed to a higher court. In that event, the editors have separated the injunction as another level of the case. The litigants in an injunction may differ from the litigants in the original suit, and therefore an appealed injunction case name might differ from the original suit name. The editors concluded that identifying an injunction that was appealed as a separate level of the original case would aid in understanding the whole case. Similarly, some independent cases were bundled by the court for one appeal. To reflect this situation, the editors identified each of the independent cases as a separate case level (at the circuit court) and one level at the supreme court. For the most part, the levels referred to in this edition do coincide with different courts through which a case progressed.

(See Court Structure and Pleading and Practice for more information.)