March 4, 2021

Scott Burnham
(312) 550-3947
[email protected]

Illinois Judges Join Legal and Community Stakeholders to Address Inequities in the Legal System

New Educational Series Will Foster Solutions for Building Public Confidence and Trust

The Illinois Judges Association (IJA) and the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism (2Civility) will kick off a new program this week aimed at advancing greater diversity, equity and inclusion in the state’s legal system.

“Building Confidence in our Legal System” is a virtual three-part series that will bring together legal and community stakeholders across Illinois to address racial and other disparities in the legal system.

“Institutional and systemic racism undermines the values of our nation and democracy,” said Hon. Diane Shelley, President of the Illinois Judges Association. “The court and legal systems not only play a primary role in ensuring justice and upholding the law, but they are essential in guaranteeing the civil and constitutional rights of all people. Our goal is to build trust and confidence in the role of judges and lawyers in preserving those rights and furthering the cause of justice and fairness.”

“I thank Judge Diane Shelley, Judge Elizabeth Rochford, and the IJA for their leadership in creating this unique program,” said Martin Sinclair, Chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism. “This program offers an amazing opportunity for people of diverse perspectives to consider together ways to improve our legal system in service to the people of Illinois.”

The virtual educational program includes three sessions – “Criminal Processes,” led by Justice Milton S. Wharton of the Fifth District Appellate Court; “Civil Procedures,” headed by former Judge Patricia Brown Holmes with the law firm of Riley Safer Holmes & Cancila; and “Leadership of Stakeholders,” run by Justice Lisa Holder White of the Fourth District Appellate Court.

Each session is comprised of working groups of judges, attorneys and other court, legal and community stakeholders. The groups will convene for a 90-minute session that includes discussions to identify challenges and explore opportunities and solutions that will be shared with the larger group. Each session constitutes 1.5 hours of ethics/professional responsibility judicial education or Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credits.

The program marks a starting point for discussions that will continue among the participants and stakeholders. The goal of the sessions is to facilitate conversation that will lead to reforms that the Illinois courts, bar associations and community groups can implement.

“Justice and fairness serve as the foundation of our legal system,” Shelley said. “The courts and the legal community must recognize that we bear a responsibility and must take steps and make changes so we can administer the law in a way that brings greater justice to our system as a whole.”

About the IJA:

The Illinois Judges Association, which represents 1,250 active and retired Illinois state court judges, was founded in 1972 to provide services, support, and education to its member judges and to improve public understanding of the Illinois judicial system. for more information and follow us onTwitter @ILJudgesAssoc andFacebook @IllinoisJudgesAssociation.

About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

The Illinois Supreme Court established the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism in 2005 under Supreme Court Rule 799(c) to foster increased civility, professionalism, and inclusiveness among lawyers and judges in Illinois. By advancing the highest standards of conduct among lawyers and judges, the Commission on Professionalism works to better serve clients and society alike. For more information, please visit and follow us on Twitter @2CivilityOrg.

Commission Press Contact
Laura Bagby, Communications Director
[email protected]