For more than 20 years, the law under Illinois Code of Civil Procedure §2-1001(a)(2) has been that a party may move for substitution of judge one time without cause as a matter of right. 735 ILCS 5/2-1001(a)(2)
Before 1993, the Code of Civil Procedure required that a petition be filed expressly alleging that the trial judge was prejudicial for some specific reason in that particular case. In 1993, an amendment to the statute was made that stated “one substitution of judge without cause as a matter of right” if the motion “is presented before trial or hearing begins and before the judge to whom it is presented has ruled on any substantial issue in the case, or if it is presented by consent of the parties.”
The case centered on a dispute between four siblings about the ownership of a family farm in Pike County, Ill. The validity of a §2-1001(a)(2) motion was contested. In this case, John Schnepf, one of the parties, filed a 2-1001(a)(2) motion before the trial started and before the judge ruled on any substantial issue. But the judge presiding concluded that her comments during arguments on other matters “certainly indicated some issues that I have problems with” and that “the parties had an opportunity to test the waters” and thus, Schnepf’s motion to substitute judges was denied.