Supreme Court releases statement
on racial justice, next steps for judicial branch
Will start recruitment for new Chief
Diversity & Inclusion Officer
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[June 25, 2020]
The events of recent days and weeks have exposed frailties in our
public institutions and brought to the forefront the
disproportionate impact the application of certain laws, rules,
policies and practices have had on the African American population,
the Latinx community, and other people of color in Illinois and
Racism exists, whether it be actualized as individual racism,
institutional racism or structural racism, and it undermines our
democracy, the fair and equitable administration of justice, and
severely diminishes individual constitutional protections and
safeguards of full citizenship with the attendant rights and
benefits sacred to all. People of color have no less expectation of
fairness, equity and freedom from racial discrimination than others,
yet they are continually confronted with racial injustices that the
Courts have the ability to nullify and set right.
The Preamble to the Illinois Constitution opens with We, the People
of the State of Illinois and in this context the Illinois Supreme
Court, a co-equal branch of government in the State of Illinois,
affirms to all of the people of the great State of Illinois its
commitment to the protections and benefits extended to every citizen
and court user through fair and equitable constitutional and
The administration of justice must be accessible, it must be fair,
and it must be equitable. Where frailties in the disposition of
justice exist, we will recognize and acknowledge them and seek to
rectify any injustice.
Here are a few steps the Court has taken to begin to address these
issues within the Judicial Branch:
• In 2012, the Illinois Supreme Court created the Commission on
Access to Justice to promote, facilitate and enhance greater access
of underserved populations and communities to civil courts.
• In 2015, the Supreme Court Committee on Equality was formed to
advance the Court’s commitment to a judicial system free of bias in
which every user and employee of the court could feel fairly
treated, safe, and respected, and to promote equality and fairness
in the administration of justice and facilitate a high level of
trust and public confidence in the courts and its judicial officers.
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• In 2017, the Supreme Court Committee on Equality partnered with the American
Bar Foundation to participate in a judicial decision-making study that revealed
judges are just like everyone else in their susceptibility to implicit bias –
formed from influences which unconsciously affect decision making. These
findings created an opportunity for engaging the judiciary and justice partners
about implicit bias and prompted the creation of an Illinois Pattern Jury
Instruction on implicit bias.
• In 2019, the Illinois Supreme Court unveiled its first Strategic Agenda and
Operational Plan for implementing changes within the Judicial Branch. This
Agenda adopted core values for the Judicial Branch: fairness, accountability,
integrity, and respect.
• In 2020, the Supreme Court Committee on Juvenile Courts recently formed a
working group on disproportionate minority representation and disparate outcomes
for children and youth involved in the child welfare and juvenile justice
But there is still much work to be done.
To further these efforts, the Court is announcing the recruitment of a Chief
Diversity and Inclusion Officer (CDIO) for the Judicial Branch. The CDIO will
serve as a leader in proposing practices, procedures and rules for Illinois’
courts to protect the constitutional rights of the public we serve. This
executive-level hire will work with the Supreme Court, the Administrative
Director and Court leaders throughout the Judicial Branch to achieve the Supreme
Court’s strategic goals related to diversity, equity and inclusion.
We recognize that these steps are only part of a long process that requires
continuous research on the role of racism in our society and actions necessary
for its eradication. The Court will continue to advance initiatives to achieve
its mission to protect the rights and liberties of all by providing equal
justice for all under law.
Admin Assistant to Dir. of Communications]