April 19, 2017
On behalf of the Illinois Supreme Court, I welcome you to the inaugural issue of Illinois Courts Connect. I am honored to present, for the first time, a newsletter dedicated to reporting on the inspiring and crucial work of the Illinois Judicial Branch. George Washington said "the true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government." Today, the judges and staff of the Illinois Courts who are dedicated to "doing justice" ensure that this visionary and noble goal is met. Illinois Courts Connect is but one of several initiatives of the Illinois Supreme Court to increase and enhance awareness of the "Third Branch," promote transparency and improve communication.
The public generally understands the Judicial Branch's duty to bring justice to life as the fair arbiter of civil and domestic disputes and impartial adjudicator of charges of criminal or delinquent conduct. These duties include consideration of arguments and testimony, entering orders and, for the courts of review, writing published opinions on a range of complex legal matters. These responsibilities are fundamental to preserving our social fabric. However, many of our citizens may be unaware of the wide range of responsibilities that the Supreme Court Justices manage on a daily basis. Under Article VI, section 16 of the Illinois Constitution, the Supreme Court is vested with administrative and supervisory authority over all courts. To assist in that regard, the Chief Justice appoints an Administrative Director and staff who comprise the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC). As the fifth largest state in the nation, and with a population that is rich in ethnic, racial, economic and language diversity, the legal needs of Illinois' society have grown in scope and complexity. So too, the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts has grown in its competencies and capacity to assist the Supreme Court in meeting these evolving needs.
The Supreme Court considers and manages a multitude of functions vital to ensuring an effective and efficient system of justice, such as: preparing and prudently stewarding the Court's budget; providing judicial branch education; managing and administering adult and juvenile probation services; conducting associate judge elections; protecting citizens' rights to due process and equal protection through access to justice; expanding efficiencies through e-Business in the courts; and many more. However, with increased requirements placed on judges, court officials, administrators, and support staff necessary to administer our system of justice, it can be difficult for the average citizen to identify, let alone understand, how the courts are run.
As such, the aim of this newsletter is twofold. First, under the guidance of the Chief Justice and Supreme Court, is a commitment to transparency in the Courts that the citizens of Illinois both expect and deserve. It is our goal that this newsletter will clarify the purpose and operations of the judiciary, as well as introduce the courts' stakeholders on a personal level. The second goal is to maintain a connection among those involved – past and present – with the Illinois justice system. It is my hope that judges (current and retired), court officials and Judicial Branch employees throughout Illinois will enjoy the stories and information provided in this issue and the many issues to come.
I hope this newsletter is an informative and enjoyable read, and I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions on improvements. With the guidance of the Chief Justice and Justices, the hard work and commitment of judges and judicial branch employees who constantly strive for a fair, effective and accountable justice system will always give us much to report.