Gov. Bruce Rauner doesn’t like the way Illinois courts are set up. He says it’s a problem that judges are elected directly by the voters. “We’re one of the few states that elects judges. Your average voter has no clue who they’re votin’ for, and trial lawyers are unlimited in their ability to make campaign contributions to judges,” he said.
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Illinois is actually one of 28 states in which trial level judges are elected. After a certain period, judges have to stand for retention, which is a non-partisan process and the judges aren’t opposed, it’s just a yes-or-no proposition.
The governor made his remarks about the judiciary – “this is a fundamentally broken judicial system at the state level,” he said – in the context of criticizing the state’s legal environment, claiming that the threat of being sued pushes businesses and doctors out of the state. Those claims have been debated over the decades and are dubious.
Rauner did not specify whether he wants to change to a system of appointed judges.