Chicago Council of Lawyers

Chicago Council of Lawyers The Chicago Council of Lawyers is Chicago's first public interest bar association. With the input of various stakeholders in Cook County and Illinois, the Council has worked to ameliorate hidden injustices and promote equity in the courts since 1969.

The Chicago Council of Lawyers is a non-partisan public interest bar association that is dedicated to improving the quality of justice in the legal system by advocating for fair and efficient administration of justice. The Chicago Council of Lawyers works for effectiveness, accountability, and equity in the law so that everyone has an equal chance for justice. We accomplish our mission with the help of a dedicated staff made up of lawyers, non-lawyers, and volunteers in the Cook County area who contribute their knowledge of law, their passion for equity, and their interdisciplinary resources. The Chicago Council of Lawyers’ mission is to promote justice for all individuals locally and nationally, which is exhibited by taking public positions on critical issues, writing legislation, working to create and pass bills at the local and state levels, speaking out through the media, collaborating with other organizations, holding public forums, and expressing our viewpoints directly to policymakers.

Operating as usual

Chicago Appleseed
12/16/2020
Chicago Appleseed

Chicago Appleseed

Social distancing is fundamentally impossible in jails and prisons without significant, consistent, and pointed decarceration.

But today, “the number of detainees testing positive for the #coronavirus at the #CookCountyJail has soared to levels not seen since cases there last peaked in the spring, when it saw one of the largest outbreaks of confirmed cases of any location in the country.”

Our Sarah Staudt spoke to The Chicago Sun-Times: “This is a complex problem, but we know how to do it...we did it in the spring, and I’m sure that saved lives. It’s past time for stakeholders to move on this.”

More about our advocacy, here: http://www.chicagoappleseed.org/pandemic-rages-cook-county-jail-grows/

League of Women Voters of Wheaton, Illinois
12/10/2020
League of Women Voters of Wheaton, Illinois

League of Women Voters of Wheaton, Illinois

It may be the holiday season, but your Illinois state Leagues are still hard at work!

Check out this recording from a Zoom webinar on December 7th at 2:00 PM with Sarah Staudt from the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice. The webinar is part of the Illinois League of Women Voters' study to update the state position on criminal justice. Find more information our the League's efforts to update our position on criminal justice here:https://www.lwvil.org/criminal-justice-position-update-study

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE1gZzBYltM&feature=youtu.be

A new report from nationally renowned criminal justice experts at Loyola University Chicago, Don Stemen and David Olson,...
12/04/2020

A new report from nationally renowned criminal justice experts at Loyola University Chicago, Don Stemen and David Olson, shows that Cook County’s efforts to reduce the use of money bail and release more people pretrial did not cause any rise in crime.

Now, it is time to expand these benefits to all people in Illinois by passing the #PretrialFairnessAct (SB 4025). The Pretrial Fairness Act would #EndMoneyBail throughout the state and decrease the number of people held in custody pretrial.

More on our blog: http://chicagocouncil.org/bail-reform-works-pass-pretrial-fairness-act/

#EndMoneyBail is a safe, cost-effective, and successful first step toward eliminating wealth-based punishment mechanisms. Now, it’s time to pass the #PretrialFairnessAct and fully eliminate money bond throughout the state of Illinois.

More on our blog: www.ChicagoAppleseed.org/Bail-Reform-Works-Pass-Pretrial-Fairness-Act/

Chicago Appleseed
11/21/2020

Chicago Appleseed

As the pandemic rages on and the jail population continues to grow, so too does our level of concern that some of the lessons we learned early-on have been lost somewhere along the way.

Visit our blog for more on why we MUST decarcerate Cook County Jail to protect public health 🔗 http://www.chicagoappleseed.org/pandemic-rages-cook-county-jail-grows/

Chicago Appleseed
11/21/2020

Chicago Appleseed

Want to keep on top of all the work Chicago Appleseed and the Chicago Council of Lawyers are doing to create an equitable, accessible, and fair justice system?

Subscribe to our newsletter today: http://eepurl.com/gyKPsP

11/21/2020
500 Error

When Sheriff Dart was sued earlier this year, the lawsuit confirmed that conditions at Cook County Jail were, in fact, dire at the beginning of the #COVID19 pandemic.

Community-led advocacy, hard work from civil rights lawyers, Public Defenders, and the State’s Attorney, and this eventual litigation finally mitigated some of the spread of COVID-19 by significantly reducing the jail population – but for the past nine months, advocates in the city and across the country have continually warned about what would inevitably happen when the jail population rose again. Today, the number of people in the jail is over 1,500 people higher than it was in May.

It is absolutely essential that every Cook County and City of Chicago official does everything in their power to reduce the population of the Cook County Jail.

More on our blog: http://chicagocouncil.org/pandemic-rages-cook-county-jail-grows/

The usual confirmation process for Appellate judges takes several months, at the least, and often longer than a year - b...
11/17/2020
Chicago Council of Lawyers Opposes the Confirmation of Thomas Kirsch – Chicago Council of Lawyers

The usual confirmation process for Appellate judges takes several months, at the least, and often longer than a year - but the current Senate has declared its intention to push the nomination of Thomas Kirsch (US Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana) to the Seventh Circuit Federal Court of Appeals through in the remaining 6 weeks of the Congressional session.

The time afforded for the Council and other organized bars to scrutinize Mr. Kirsch’s qualifications prior to the Judiciary Committee hearing tomorrow, November 18, has been grossly inadequate. Therefore, we must oppose the confirmation of Thomas Kirsch, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana, to a seat on the Federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Full statement on our blog: http://chicagocouncil.org/opposition-to-kirsch-nomination/

17 Nov Chicago Council of Lawyers Opposes the Confirmation of Thomas Kirsch chicagocouncil Judicial Structures, Ethics, and Efficiency The Chicago Council of Lawyers, Chicago’s public interest bar association, opposes the confirmation of Thomas Kirsch, the United States Attorney for the Northern D...

Chicago Appleseed
11/13/2020
Chicago Appleseed

Chicago Appleseed

The Pretrial Fairness Act (PFA) will #EndMoneyBail, ensure faster release, require courts to provide common sense pretrial services, increase government transparency, and reform the warrant system in Illinois.

State Senator Robert Peters, sponsor of the PFA, explained to Injustice Watch: "The cash bail system imposes a different justice system on defendants who can afford their bond compared to those who can’t."

More about the Pretrial Fairness Act on our website: www.ChicagoAppleseed.org/Community-Resources/#PFA

The frequency of “testilying” is hard to measure because it is rarely acknowledged. Along with fellow members of the Coa...
11/11/2020
Police Perjury - "Testilying" - Perpetuates Institutional Racism, Violence, and Corruption | Chicago Appleseed Fund For Justice

The frequency of “testilying” is hard to measure because it is rarely acknowledged. Along with fellow members of the Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability, we published a series of reports in 2019 examining how the “code of silence” is perpetuated, in part, by the Chicago Police Department’s collective bargaining agreements, which have effectively made the “code of silence” official policy.

Learn more about police perjury, "testilying" at http://www.ChicagoAppleseed.org/Testilying/

This information is based on research by Chicago Appleseed Intern Cinque Carson – visit our Community Resources page to download an informational presentation and access a one-pager on “testilying.” “Testilying” (a euphemism for police perjury) is a widespread injustice in the legal system...

Join our mailing list!
11/10/2020

Join our mailing list!

Want to keep on top of all the work Chicago Appleseed and the Chicago Council of Lawyers are doing to create an equitable, accessible, and fair justice system?

Subscribe to our newsletter today: http://eepurl.com/gyKPsP

"In the era of Black Lives Matter, police misconduct, and social justice reform, competent judges are major components. ...
10/30/2020
Column: This election isn’t just about Donald Trump and Congress. Pay attention to those judges on the ballot too.

"In the era of Black Lives Matter, police misconduct, and social justice reform, competent judges are major components. We must make sure that we have jurists who are guided by the law and are committed to ensuring that every defendant receives fair and equitable treatment," writes columnist Dahleen Glanton for Chicago Tribune.

You can find our state judicial evaluations on our website, or - along with many other bar associations' recommendations - on Chicago Appleseed's www.VoteForJudges.org.

Judges aren't an afterthought. Be prepared to vote to retain them -- or not, Dahleen Glanton writes.

10/28/2020
Coalition to End Money Bond

It’s time to #EndMoneyBail. Tell your legislators!

Illinois incarcerates thousands of people like Jason every year—not because they're guilty of a crime but because they can't afford to pay a money bond.

Tell your legislators it's time to #EndMoneyBail: bit.ly/PretrialFairnessLetter

Chicago Appleseed
10/27/2020
Chicago Appleseed

Chicago Appleseed

In the conversations about cycles of poverty created by regressive and punitive court fines and fees, and enforcement schemes, it is important to also include the role of child support mechanisms, but activists for economic justice do not always have access to the in-depth knowledge necessary to drive these initiatives.

To that end, Chicago Appleseed has created a series of resources for individuals and organizations to learn more about child support adjudication and enforcement mechanisms in Illinois. Learn more at http://www.chicagoappleseed.org/our-blog/economic-advocacy-resources-for-community-activists

Chicago Council of Lawyers's cover photo
10/26/2020

Chicago Council of Lawyers's cover photo

Thank you to all of the panelists, moderators, sponsors, and viewers who made our October 2020 Virtual Forum Series a su...
10/26/2020

Thank you to all of the panelists, moderators, sponsors, and viewers who made our October 2020 Virtual Forum Series a success. Though we couldn't come together in person this year, the three-panel series helped us highlight the collaborative advocacy of Chicago Appleseed, the Chicago Council of Lawyers, and our vast network of allies and community partners while also outlining our goals for the year ahead.

View our expert panels, contribute, and learn more about our work: http://chicagocouncil.org/october-2020-thank-you/

Tune in at 3:00 PM today!
10/16/2020
Chicago Appleseed

Tune in at 3:00 PM today!

Tune in TODAY for a panel on #ImprovingTheBench: Electing a High-Quality, Diverse Judiciary with ⭐️Jen Dean and Stevie Valles from Chicago Votes ⭐️ Elizabeth Monkus and Malcolm Rich from Chicago Appleseed & Chicago Council of Lawyers ⭐ Rick Tulsky from Injustice Watch ⭐️ and former Cook County Judge Travis Richardson - moderated by ⭐ Mari Cohen of Jewish Currents & South Side Weekly.

Visit https://www.collaborationforjustice.org/improvingthebench at 3:00 PM (CST)!

Are you registered? RSVP today at the link below.
10/14/2020

Are you registered? RSVP today at the link below.

👏 THIS FRIDAY 👏

A high-quality judiciary - the foundation of equitable and effective courts - relies on public's informed oversight of the judiciary, but how can we ensure public access to transparent and objective reports of individual judges’ histories, behaviors, and practices?

Join us as we speak with legal experts, journalists, and civic organizers about strategies to improve and diversify - in more than just a representative way - the Cook County bench, the Illinois Appellate and Supreme Courts, and our administrative judiciary.

🔗 RSVP today at ChicagoAppleseed.org/Events

10/06/2020
Chicago Appleseed

Chicago Appleseed

Chicago Appleseed and the Chicago Council of Lawyers form a "Collaboration for Justice" focused on improving lives by improving the courts. Our courts sit at the intersection of systemic problems in our communities and the government’s response to them.

We cannot build an equitable and just world without equitable and just courts, and we need your help. Support our work today by donating at https://secure.chicagoappleseed.org/np/clients/caffj/donation.jsp. Thank you!

https://vimeo.com/462677836

Join us this Friday! Register and donate at https://secure.chicagoappleseed.org/np/clients/caffj/eventRegistration.jsp?e...
10/05/2020

Join us this Friday! Register and donate at https://secure.chicagoappleseed.org/np/clients/caffj/eventRegistration.jsp?event=14&anotherEvent=1

Achieving “Collaborative Justice Reinvestment” requires more than developing data-based solutions to address discriminatory policies - it necessarily includes, also, working for intentional, structural changes, end regressive court-funding practices and change a culture that has historically propagated racial and economic inequity.

Join Chicago Appleseed and the Chicago Council of Lawyers as we discuss, with our allies, transformative ways to ensure accessible justice for all people this Friday at 3 PM. RSVP now: https://secure.chicagoappleseed.org/np/clients/caffj/eventRegistration.jsp?event=14&anotherEvent=1

Chicago Appleseed
10/01/2020

Chicago Appleseed

Today, Chicago Appleseed, Chicago Council of Lawyers, The People's Lobby, and Reclaim Chicago release “Prosecutorial Discretion in a Tumultuous Year,” the seventh report in our series on the impact of prosecutorial discretion on incarceration and punitive punishment in Cook County since State’s Attorney (SA) Kim Foxx took office.

When SA Foxx took office in 2017, she inherited one of the most punitive States' Attorneys' Offices (SAO) in the country. Over the last three-and-a-half years, Foxx’s administration has made progress toward ending some of the most damaging practices of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, but more must be done to switch the SAO’s culture to prioritize justice over punishment.

Read the full report 🔗 http://www.chicagoappleseed.org/our-blog/prosecutorial-discretion-in-a-tumultuous-year/

Chicago Appleseed
09/30/2020

Chicago Appleseed

Did you know that in the past 25-years, only one elected judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County - the largest of twenty-four judicial circuits in Illinois and the second largest unified court system in the United States - did not win a retention election?

Despite the fact that Black and Latinx people account for over 90% of the people living in Cook County Jail, fewer than 22% and only about 8% of judges on the Cook County bench are Black or Latinx, respectively. Only about 12% of judges - 52 people - in the past ten years are Black or Latinx men.

The next retention election is on November 3. Learn more about why it is so important to vote for judges on the event page: http://ow.ly/27px50BBuxq.

To register for our forum on 10/16, visit www.ChicagoAppleseed.org/Events.

Chicago Appleseed
09/29/2020
Chicago Appleseed

Chicago Appleseed

“We have to get people out of jail before we are faced again with a crisis,” our Senior Policy Analyst and Staff Attorney, Sarah Staudt, told South Side Weekly: “the last time people died, and I do not want to see our stakeholders wait for another person to die to realize this [is a] crisis.”

Read the Coalition to End Money Bond’s full report on #COVID19 and Cook County Jail, here:https://endmoneybond.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/ccbf_covidreport-final.pdf

Join us this October to discuss, among other things, our "Vision for Collaborative Justice Reinvestment" on 10/9. RSVP t...
09/28/2020

Join us this October to discuss, among other things, our "Vision for Collaborative Justice Reinvestment" on 10/9. RSVP today at ChicagoAppleseed.org/Events!

Did you know that the revenue actually raised through court costs, fines, and fees is minuscule in comparison to and in no way recovers the excessive amount spent on law enforcement and corrections each year? Collectively, U.S. jurisdictions spend about $100-billion on policing and another $80-billion on incarceration annually.

Criminal justice debt collection processes are estimated to cost the courts approximately 121-times more to collect than it costs the IRS to collect federal taxation.

Register for our "Vision for Collaborative Justice Reinvestment" forum on 10/9: www.ChicagoAppleseed.org/Events.

Learn more on the event page: https://fb.me/e/fxrBIldX8

Chicago Appleseed
09/24/2020

Chicago Appleseed

There is a significant backlog of criminal cases building up in the Cook County Courts. Between April 30 and June 1, only 7% of the usual number of cases were resolved. With little improvement in July and August, this means that the court would need to resolve cases at 3-4x the rate they have been to catch up with previous years’ numbers.

There is still a steady influx of people entering the the Cook County Jail - with numbers nearly ABOVE where they were in April - which greatly endangers all individuals, as social distancing will be impossible when #COVID19 is inevitably reintroduced.

This lack of pretrial justice cannot continue to stand in the Cook County, where people are being held in potentially dangerous conditions - often for economic reasons. Learn more here: www.chicagoappleseed.org/our-blog/cook-county-courts-massively-behind-schedule-on-criminal-cases/

The Collaboration for Justice--Chicago Appleseed & the Council of Lawyers--is part of the Transit Table coalition and th...
09/23/2020
Full Guide: How to Get a Valid Illinois Driver's License — L2W

The Collaboration for Justice--Chicago Appleseed & the Council of Lawyers--is part of the Transit Table coalition and the national Free to Drive coalition, working to bring equity to fines and fees structures in government and to end punitive driver's license suspensions for debt collection purposes.

The License to Work Act, which ended suspension for parking ticket debt, became effective in July 2020. As a result, 75,000 Illinois drivers had suspensions cleared from their driving record. Since then, Revolution Workshop has helped so many people with suspended driver’s licenses, they wrote a guidebook on it! Thanks to Revolution Workshop and the Transit Table coalition, you can download the full guide here. Get yourself, your neighbor, or your niece the information to get a valid driver’s license in Illinois.
https://www.license2work.org/full-guide
We're proud to be part of the Transit Table coalition and its work for economic justice.

There are many reasons someone might not have a valid driver’s license. Parking ticket debts and some other suspensions are covered by the License to Work Act, but there can be a lot of other information to navigate.

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The Chicago Council of Lawyers was organized in the summer of 1969 by a group of lawyers who believed that attorneys have obligations beyond those of other professions. The founders wanted to create an association of attorneys, ranging in skills and expertise, that would challenge the inadequacies of our legal system. In October of 1969, over three hundred attorneys had attended the first annual meeting of Chicago’s public interest bar association, the Chicago Council of Lawyers. Since 1969, the Chicago Council of Lawyers has achieved many landmark accomplishments and through research, reports, evaluations, legislation, and speaking out on the important issues of the day, we have influenced our Chicago community in a constructive way. The Council continues to work toward effectiveness, accountability, and equity in the law in Cook County and throughout Illinois.

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