Under 735 ILCS 5/2-1001(a)(2), each party is entitled to one substitution of judge as a matter of right. Here are some things to keep in mind about the substitution process:
- The motion for substitution must be made before the judge has made a substantive ruling in the case;
- A substantive ruling is one that addresses the merits of a case. For example, a motion granting an extension of time to plead or an unopposed motion to amend would generally not be considered substantive;
- It is not necessary to give a reason for the substitution;
- The right of substitution belongs to the individual parties. Thus a single lawyer who represents two parties may move for substitution twice, once on behalf of each party he represents.
- A judge who has reason to believe that a motion for substitution was filed merely to delay or avoid a trial may deny the motion on those grounds.
Note: This post was based in part on information found in Illinois Pretrial Practice, by Judge Jennifer Duncan-Brice, James P. Flannery, Jr., Timothy W. Kelly, & Kevin G. Owens (James Publishing 2005).
UPDATE: There is more information about what types of rulings are "substantive" in "Seeking a New Judge as Matter of Right in Illinois: What Is a 'Substantive' Ruling?"