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TRO Puts Illinois Judicial Circuit Redistricting to a Halt

ABSTRACT: Madison County State's Attorney, Thomas Haine, is successful at stalling Illinois Judicial Circuit redistricting as political parties navigate for position in the forthcoming Judicial election.

The Judicial Circuits Districting Act of 2022 (“The Act”) is at issue in the recent temporary restraining order (“TRO”) granted by Sangamon County Judge Ryan Cadigan on January 24, 2022. The Act was signed by Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker, on January 7, 2022. The last census illustrated that redistricting was needed and has been in the works for quite some time. It will increase the number of subcircuits in Cook County from 15 to 20 and requires that their boundaries be redrawn based on Census data every 10 years. The Act itself spans 388 pages and impacts all Judicial Circuits in Illinois. The Act has been described as a way to create a more diverse bench and provide minority communities with a larger voice in the election. 

Prior to The Act, the Third Judicial Circuit (which encompasses Madison and Bond Counties in Illinois) had 5 circuit-wide judgeships and 4 resident judgeships (with the resident judgeships including 3 from Madison County and 1 from Bond County). The Act redistricts the Third Judicial Circuit into 4 Subcircuits: 1st Subcircuit- West side of Madison County, which will have 3 judgeships; 2nd Subcircuit - the Center of Madison County, which will have 3 judgeships; 3rd Subcircuit - the East side of Madison County, which will have 2 judgeships; and 4th Subcircuit - Bond County, which will 1 judgeship. Now, intertwined with the innerworkings of The Act are two judicial vacancies of the Honorable David Dugan and the Honorable Richard Tognarelli, which have been assigned to the 1st Subcircuit. The suit was filed by State’s Attorney Thomas Haine, including Madison County, Illinois, on behalf of the County and the People of Madison County, and Bethalto, Illinois resident, Christina Wiley, pro se, as plaintiffs, and names the Illinois State Board of Elections; its members, in their official capacities; Governor J.B. Pritzker; and the Cynthia A. Grant, the Supreme Court Clerk of Illinois, as defendants. In his Complaint, Haine argues that this new redistricting is an infringement on separation of powers and violates the Illinois Constitution in that “it converts all at-large circuit judgeships in Madison County to resident judgeships, and the Act requires that all future vacancies will be assigned to specific judicial subcircuits for election and retention. Never again will there be an at-large election to fill a judicial vacancy in Madison County.” Haine has also spoken publicly stating, that “[t]his is not a partisan issue, it is a Constitutional issue.” 

Further, in his Complaint, Haine states that “[b]y eliminating all at-large circuit judgeships in Madison County, the Defendants have unconstitutionally barred residents of the 2nd and 3rd subcircuits from voting on a circuit judge vacancy for a minimum of two election cycles, and barred them entirely, from electing or retaining a circuit judge out of the 1st subcircuit.”  To put into perspective, it is argued that it would prevent Madison County residents, like plaintiff Christina Wiley, from voting on the two judicial vacancies in the November 2022 general election, and beyond, as she does not live in the 1st Subcircuit, the effect of which means that she, and others, will not have the ability to vote for the judges that will preside over their criminal matters, personal injury cases, divorce cases, property disputes and any other matter which might be brought in front of their local judiciary. Haine noted that 2022 Voter Registration Cards have already been designed and reviewed for error, and do not include the subcircuits, would which to correct under such limited time, could undermine the validity of the 2022 circuit judge elections.

On January 24, 2022, Judge Ryan Cadigan of the 7th Judicial Circuit, encompassing Sangamon County, granted the plaintiffs the TRO. Thereafter, on January 27, Attorney General, Kwame Raoul, filed an appeal to reverse and dissolve the TRO on behalf of Illinois Governor, J.B. Pritzker and Illinois Clerk of the Supreme Court, Cynthia Grant. Raoul set out many issues with the TRO including - that it orders Ms. Grant to recertify the 2 judicial vacancies, of which he argues she has no authority to do so, and that the TRO invalidates The Act in its entirety, not just in Madison County which is overly broad and an abuse of discretion. Further, Raoul argues that the TRO does not preserve the status quo, as it ruled on a law prior to the law taking effect. Haine responded to Raoul’s appeal on January 31, stating that Judge Cadigan made it clear he would confine his order to Madison County, Illinois.

The preliminary injunction hearing is currently set for February 15, 2022. We will continue to monitor and advise of any developments related to the currently scheduled hearing and appeal to the Fourth District.