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Case Law Research

State Trial Courts and Their Reporters

State Trial Courts and Their Reporters


Interactive Illinois Circuit Court Map

The Trial courts of Illinois are broken into circuits, which are jurisdictions based on grouping of Illinois counties. These are organized into Judicial Districts. Cook County alone comprises the 1st Judicial District, and contains the Circuit Court of Cook County. In contrast, the 2nd Judicial District comprises the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th Judicial Circuits. The other three Judicial Districts are similarly organized with their respective Judicial Circuits. For more information about the Illinois Circuit Courts, see the Illinois Circuit Courts web site.

A trial court may issue an opinion as part of a decision. These are rarely reported in the state court systems. Based on the volume of cases at the trial level in most state courts, it is impractical to collect and publish any opinions that exist. In any event, any opinion at the trial level is not binding on any other court. This tends to discourage their creation with most state trial courts simply announcing a result. Any documents generated during the litigation -- complaints, motions, supporting memoranda, etc. -- are locatable in the court file in the clerk’s office for that jurisdiction.

Some state trial courts do have reporters. Pennsylvania has district and county reports for various parts of the state. The opinions are reported in a series of reporters called District and County Reports. In New York, the Supreme Court is actually a trial court and decisions with opinions are reported in the New York Supplement, which is a West Group reporter. They also appear in a set of official reports called New York Miscellaneous Reports. The trend for most states, however, is not to publish these materials. Lexis and Westlaw will only carry these trial decisions if there is a paper counterpart.