The Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism is pleased to announce that it recently partnered with the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice to lead its 12th Courthouse Professionalism Training. The in-person training was held on January 11, 2023, at the Cook County Sixth Municipal District courthouse in Markham, Illinois.
Roughly 40 members of the courthouse working community —including judges, attorneys, deputies, clerks, and administration—participated in the half-day program that asked them to navigate the courthouse experience through the lens of court users.
“Courthouse Professionalism Training is an opportunity for the Commission to engage with the courthouse working community to address professionalism and access to justice challenges that may impact the administration of justice,” said Martin Sinclair, Chair of the Commission on Professionalism. “Thank you to Presiding Judge Brewer, our Commissioner Judge Bonita Coleman, the planning committee, and all of the participants for their active and meaningful involvement.”
In preparation for the program, Sixth Municipal District Presiding Judge Tommy Brewer hand-picked court personnel from all sectors of the courthouse to serve on the planning committee. The planning committee worked with Commission Chief Counsel Mark Palmer to pinpoint professionalism challenges specific to the Sixth Municipal District.
The program began with remarks from Presiding Judge Brewer; Judge Bonita Coleman, a Commissioner with the Commission on Professionalism who serves the Sixth Municipal District; Sinclair; and Deputy Director Stephanie Villinski.
Court personnel then acted in a skit illustrating professional and unprofessional behavior that may affect the experience of court users when attending a routine court procedure.
Education Manager Dan Davies followed with a session on active listening. Sarah Song and August Hieber from the Access to Justice Commission then presented on access to justice resources for self-represented litigants and the Court’s Policy on Assistance to Court Patrons, commonly referred to as the Safe Harbor Policy.
Finally, the participants were divided into small groups to discuss challenges specific to their departments and how they might work together to address them.
“Thank you to the Commission on Professionalism and the Access to Justice Commission for bringing this impactful program to the courthouse community in Markham,” Presiding Judge Brewer said. “The program has provided us with the unique opportunity to step back and assess the courthouse experience through the eyes of those we serve, providing valuable takeaways that will enable us to deliver efficient and effective services to the people of Cook County.”
Since it was launched in 2015, the Commission has led 12 Courthouse Professionalism Trainings in courthouses across the state, including Rock Island, Waukegan, Quincy, Chicago, and Peoria.
“It was wonderful to bring my work with the Commission on Professionalism to the Sixth Municipal District,” said Judge Coleman. “This training underscores our sense of purpose, ensuring that all those entering the courthouse receive fair and civil treatment under the law.”
About the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism
The Illinois Supreme Court established the Commission on Professionalism under Supreme Court Rule 799 to promote integrity, professionalism, and civility among the lawyers and judges of Illinois, to foster a commitment to the elimination of bias and divisiveness within the legal and judicial systems, and to ensure those systems provide equitable, effective, and efficient resolution of problems for the people of Illinois.
The Commission achieves this mission through professional responsibility CLE, lawyer-to-lawyer mentoring, legal professionalism programming, educational resources, and more. To learn more, visit 2Civility.org and follow us on Twitter @2CivilityOrg.
Laura Bagby, Communications Director