CHAIR HOOKS SPEAKS
It is an extreme honor to serve our community, the judicial profession and the members of the Illinois Judicial Council (IJC) as its Chair during this 2014-2015 bar year. I’m blessed and honored to have a dynamic, dedicated and highly talented team of officers, board members, committee chairs and IJC members as we move towards perfecting our new and our historical activities. Our IJC is a collective of the most impressive group of jurist ever assembled to do the right thing at this pressing time in our history.
In this 50th Year Anniversary of the Civil Rights Voting Act and other legal enactments which were long overdue, we stand united to prevent the theft and erosion of ground gained. We must never forget that the robes that we wear were earned through battles fought in all four branches of government. The executive, legislative, judicial branches were pushed into paying the centuries owed debts that the “community” branch of government insisted upon in the schools, churches and streets throughout our great republic. As judges of color and judges of concern, we are especially sensitive to the promises we have made to the community, and to the profession.
The theme of this bar year’s installation gala was “Judges, Justice and All that jazz.” In accord with this theme the IJC is in a yearlong jam session with a number of activities centered around servicing the community, the judiciary and the members of the IJC. It is my mission to continue the IJC’s time honored service to community, the judicial profession and to the IJC members as a whole and individually.
This year we have a number of new and ongoing committees and action projects to assist in accomplishing our mission. Each judge has been challenged to step forward to either serve an ongoing project or to create a program to move us forward in a new manner.
A sample of some of the new and the ongoing committees and projects are in full jazz swing. The year’s set was opened up by the performances of Judges Drella Savage and Andrea M. Buford as they chaired the full jazz band of judges who gave us an over the top installation gala. The gala gig included two professional jazz groups and our surprise Sax of Court Queen, Judge Blanche Manning.
A sample of some of our new projects include Judge Buford’s “Save the Children Committee” which is a fully sanctioned program in the Child Protection Division which allows judges and lawyers to team up with and mentor some our youth who need the special leadership that community minded jurist are so willing to provide. Judges Cynthia Cobbs, Carl Boyd and Diana Embil and others are still providing “Conversations With the Judges” throughout Cook County.
Judges Rodney Hughes Brooks and Diane Shelly have taken the “Black History Photo Display” to a whole new level with a new project design professional and their new ideas on how to jazz up our images for all to see. Judge Savage has created a judicial mentoring project that mentors lawyers who have judicial aspirations. The committee pulls judges and justices into action to prepare potential jurists for the challenges of preparing to suit up for a judicial appointment or election.
Judges Kimberly Lewis and Lionel Jean-Baptiste are leading the way with the “Judges in the Schools” program. Youth can’t be what they can’t see. Accordingly ICJ members will continue to visit high schools and grade schools delivering career advice and anti-violence messages that are so important during this time in streets. Judge Allen Walker is starting a high school internship program that will place high school students in the courtroom with our IJC judges to see how we serve the community from the bench.
Judge Stanley Hill is taking our “Rainbow PUSH Oratorical Competition” to the highest level it has ever climbed. This years’ competition moved from a local to a national format. Dozens of IJC members and other community leaders coached, mentored and graded dozens of future Justice Pinchams and Judge Hubbards as they perfected the art of the speech delivery.
Our Law Day Committee and our Scholarship Committee are in the good hands of Judges Sharon Oden Johnson and Dominique Collins Ross. Judge Thaddeus L. Wilson has expanded our website footprint with a new web designer teamed under his own technical expertise. Judge Wilson has also expanded our IJC branding with unique ICJ collector items for purchase.
Justices Neville and Hall are continuing to create judicial educational programs to keep our members mentally fit. Judges Watkins, Ahmed , Stratton and Boyd are getting us moving with stair climbing, walking, running and cycling events to keep us up and moving to the beat.
Judges Ann Breen-Greco and Frederick Bates are our administrative law judicial leaders who are tasked with making sure that IJC members who serve in administrative law assignments continue to keep us updated on matters of concern to this most important extension of the judiciary. Judges Leonard Murray and Patricia Banks will continue to be the face of the National Bar Association within the IJC and across the nation.
Judges Steven Watkins, Leonard Murray, and Carl Boyd will continue to work on a very special relationship we are establishing with Chicago State University. These same three judges are also working on a Homeless Project to be rolled out shortly.
As we move forward in this bar year, I will listen to what concerns you. I’m you and you are me. Let’s make each other proud.
– Judge William H Hooks