Justice Cynthia Y. Cobbs currently serves as a justice on the Illinois Appellate Court. Prior to her appointment to the appellate court, Justice Cobbs was appointed as a circuit court judge in September 2011, and won election to the seat in 2014. Early in her legal career, Justice Cobbs served as senior judicial law clerk to Supreme Court (Chief) Justice Charles E. Freeman.
Prior to becoming a judge, she served first as a staff attorney and then as chief legal counsel in the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, the administrative arm of the Illinois Supreme Court. In 2002, she was appointed by the Supreme Court as Director of the Illinois Courts, becoming the first African American and the first woman to serve in that capacity. As Director, she advised the high court on every aspect of administering Illinois’ court system, including budgeting, continuing education for judges, the delivery of probation services, rules of practice for attorneys and the impact of legislation on the judiciary.
Justice Cobbs currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Supreme Court's Judicial College, the governing body which oversees continuing education and professional development for all Illinois judges and justice partners;; the Board of Directors for South Suburban PADS, a not for profit organization which delivers shelter, housing and rehabilitative services to South Suburban Cook County's homeless population, and Lawyers Lend A Hand to Youth, a
not for profit organization which provides grant funding for mentoring programs serving underprivileged youth in the Chicagoland area; and, the Supreme Court Rules Committee. Prior to COVID-19, she served as a weekly Lend A Hand tutor for children attending Englewood Montessori School. Justice Cobbs is a past chairperson of the Illinois Judicial Council, an organization largely comprised of African American judges.
She has been awarded the CF Stradford Award, Chicago-Kent Ida Platt Award; National Bar Association's Heman Sweatt Award; Cook County Bar Association’s Kenneth E. Wilson Award; Sweet Holy Spirit’s Justice of the Year Award; Top Ladies of Distinction Crown Jewel Award; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Crescent Moon Award; IJC Chairperson’s Award; Chicago Bar Association’s Earl Burris Dickerson Award; Cook County Bar Association’s Judicial Award; Chicago-Kent’s Alumni Association Recognition Award; Chicago-Kent’s Bar and Gavel Society Inductee; and The Standish Willis Award.
Justice Cobbs received her B.A. from Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland, a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland and her law degree from IIT-Chicago-Kent College of Law.