Illinois Judges Association

Pro Bono Spotlight - February 2023

     This month we are pleased to spotlight retired Judge Mark VandeWiele.  Judge VandeWiele served as a Circuit Judge in the Fourteenth Judicial Circuit from 2000 until his retirement in 2020.  He was the Circuit’s Arbitration Supervising Judge for 13 years.    While on the bench and during retirement, Judge VandeWiele has been extensively involved in volunteer activities that benefit the judiciary, the justice system and his community.

     For the past 18 months, Judge VandeWiele has served as a volunteer mediator for the Rock Island County Eviction Diversion Program.  He comes to the courthouse two Fridays each month to mediate contested eviction cases.  The eviction program initially required the mediators to arrange mediations on Zoom with the litigants, many of whom were unrepresented. Some of the mediators had difficulty getting the litigants to respond to calls or emails to schedule the mediations.

     Judge VandeWiele recommended that the mediations be held at the courthouse in conjunction with the Friday morning eviction call.  This recommendation was implemented, and the mediation process is now more “user friendly” for the litigants and the mediators.  The litigants appear in court on Friday mornings, and if their cases are unresolved, they immediately proceed to mediation.

     Judge VandeWiele has also provided generous assistance to his local high school football program, where many players are of limited means. He volunteers as the team photographer, providing players with lifetime memories of their experience at no cost.  In addition, he has also quietly purchased equipment and convenience items for the team out of his own funds.  For example, Judge VandeWiele equipped the team locker room with charging stations and charging cables so players leave practice knowing their cell phones (which double as their alarm clocks) would not die in the middle of the night, allowing them to wake up in time for school.

     In addition, Judge VandeWiele has donated his time and talents to judicial education.  He has served on the Judicial Education Committee of the Illinois Judicial College and given presentations to judges and justice partners on privacy, security, financial topics and remote proceedings.  While a judge and in retirement, Judge VandeWiele has served as a Peer Judge Mentor and Judicial Performance Facilitator.  He also co-chairs the Committee on Judicial Education workgroup that drafted and maintains the current Comprehensive Judicial Education Plan.

     Since becoming a new judge and continuing through retirement, Judge VandeWiele has been an extremely active member of the Illinois Judges Association (“IJA”).  He served on many IJA committees while on the bench and continues his service today as Co-Chair of the Pension/Legislation Committee, as a member of the Court and Family Security Committee, and as special advisor to the IJA president on pension matters.  The IJA has honored Judge VandeWiele for his exemplary service to the IJA and judiciary, dedication to the improvement and administration of justice, and devotion to judges and their welfare through the presentation of the Harold Sullivan Award, the Seymour Simon Spirit Award, and the Presidential Service Award.

     In addition to his many volunteer activities, Judge VandeWiele serves as a private mediator for civil litigation matters as well as an arbitrator for court-annexed and private arbitrations.

     We thank Judge VandeWiele for his outstanding contributions to the judiciary, justice system, and his community.