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The resources listed here are available for free on the web and offer alternatives to print and subscription databases for accessing Illinois legal materials. Any site listed here is considered trustworthy because it is published by a government entity or another established organization.
For more on evaluating the trustworthiness of freely available information on the web, see this option from the Southern Illinois University School of Law Library.
Legislative History Research
"Legislative history" refers to the documents generated as a bill passes through the legislative process on its way to becoming a statutory law. The following guides will help you to understand the process of gathering that documentation for a particular piece of Illinois legislation.
Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions
Jury instructions are the set of legal rules that jurors should follow when the jury is deciding a civil or criminal case. Many jurisdictions, including Illinois, have approved "pattern" instructions for frequently-tried cases. A party must use pattern instructions if they are provided.
Illinois Pattern Jury instructions are no longer updated in print but can be found for free via the official Illinois Courts Web site (see links below).
New Illinois Citation Rule!
Case Law Research
About the Courts in Illinois
A succinct description of the division of jurisdiction and responsibilities among the three levels of the Illinois court system.
How Cases Proceed Thru the Court System
A visual summary of the path that a case can take through the Illinois courts.
Illinois Courts (State Courts)
This is the online presence for the Ilinois state court system. Scroll over the blue "Courts" tab to find direct links to the homepages for the Supreme, Appellate, and Circuit courts. Scroll over the neighboring "Documents" tab to find a link to state Supreme and Appellate court opinions.
Circuit Court of Cook County (State Court)
Chicago is located in the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of Cook County. Particularly helpful for students and practitioners are the "About the Circuit Court" and "Court Rules & Orders" sections linked from the court's homepage.
U.S. District Court for N.D. Ill. (Federal Court)
This homepage of the federal trial court covering the northern section of Illinois may interest those whose Illinois research also extends into the federal system. Links to local rules, online forms, and pattern jury instructions are particularly helpful.
U.S. District Court for S.D. Ill. (Federal Court)
The homepage of the federal trial court covering the southern portion of Illinois has useful links to the court's recent opinions, forms, and local rules.
U.S. District Court for C.D. Ill. (Federal Court)
The homepage for the federal trial court for the central district of Illinois contains good links to the court's opinions, rules, and forms.
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit (Federal Court)
The Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is the federal court's appellate presence in Illinois. Its homepage has good links to the court's opinions, rules, forms, and calendars.
Statutory Law Research
The Legislative Reference Bureau's site includes this nicely organized presentation of the state's 1970 constitution.
Illinois General Assembly
The Illinois General Assembly (ILGA) is Illinois' state legislative body. Its homepage is a good starting point for conducting free statutory research on Illinois laws.
Illinois Compiled Statutes
This portion of the Illinois General Assembly's website contains a chapter-by-chapter version of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS), which contain the statutory laws of Illinos. NOTE: This is not considered an "official" version of Illinois' statutes, but, for practical purposes, it is a good research tool. Remember to cite to an official source.
Citation Conversion Charts (Legislative Reference Bureau)
If you need to quickly convert a statutory citation from the current Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) system to the pre-1993 "Ill.Rev. Stat." system (or vice versa) see links to helpful charts in the left column of the Illinois Reference Bureau's homepage.
Case Reports (Illinois Legislative Bureau)
These case reports by the Illinois Legislative Reference Bureau are prepared annually to note case law that significantly affects the interpretation of Illinois' constitution and/or statutes.
Administrative Law Research
Illinois State Agencies
The State of Illinois website offers this easy to consult, alphabetical list of state agencies.
Illinois Executive Branch
Chapter 20 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes (ILCS) contains statutory provisions relevant to Illinois' executive branch departments, boards, and commissions. NOTE: Although very convenient to use for research, the free web version of the ILCS is not considered an "official" version.
Illinois Rulemaking Process
If you are new to administrative law research, consult this four-page summary first before jumping into primary administrative sources. It references most of those sources, free web versions of which are linked below.
Illinois Administrative Procedures Act
The Illinois Administrative Procedures Act (5 ILCS 100/) sets out the statutory authority and procedures necessary for rulemaking and other actions of Illinois administrative agencies. NOTE: Although very convenient to use for research, this is not considered an "official" version of the Act.
The Illinois Register (analagous to the Federal Register at the federal level) is the official publication containing rules and regulations (proposed and final), notices, and other Illinois executive branch actions. It is maintained on the Illinois Secretary of State's website.
Illinois Administrative Code
The Illinois Administrative Code contains current rules and regulations promulgated by executive branch agencies. However, the electronic version is maintained by the legislative branch, the Illinois General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR).
Illinois Administrative Code Indexes
The Secretary of State's website (CyberDriveIllinois) houses several tools for locating Illinois administrative law. Particularly useful are the "Comparison Index: Illinois Administrative Code to Statutory Authority" and tables and indexes tracking recently repealed and amended sections of the code.
Each week this short publication of the Illinois General Assembly's Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) summarizes any agency rulemaking activity covered in that week's Illinois Register.
Illinois Attorney General Opinions
The Illinois Attorney General is part of the state's executive branch and, among other duties, provides legal advice to state agencies. Official opinions available from 1978 to the present on the AG's website offer insight into the office's position on official matters.