Fifth Appellate District Listening Conference
From left: Commissioner Timothy Kelly; Judge and Commissioner Debra B. Walker; Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, Illinois Supreme Court; Assistant Dean Michael Ruiz, SIU Law; Dean Cynthia Fountaine, SIU Law; Commissioner Michael Fiello, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance; Jeff Colman, chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice; Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, Illinois Supreme Court; and Danielle Hirsch, executive director of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice.
Lawyers, judges and social service providers attended the “Fifth Appellate District Listening Conference” on June 5, 2013, at Southern Illinois University. Approximately 70 participants in Edwardsville combined with 22 in Carbondale.
The listening conference was a program of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice which is devoted to doing whatever it can to improve access to justice for everyone, but with an emphasis on improving access for the poor and vulnerable. The purpose of the Fifth Appellate District Listening Conference was to hear from people engaged in the judicial system about problems confronting the poor and vulnerable in our communities, and also to hear about possible solutions.
Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier attended from the Illinois Supreme Court, along with Chair Jeffrey D. Colman and Commissioners Michael A. Fiello, Judge Debra B. Walker and Timothy W. Kelly of the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice.
Assistant Dean Mike Ruiz participated on a panel and spoke about ways SIU Law and our faculty and students are working to improve access to justice in our community and state.
A few of the issues and suggestions that were discussed include:
Have courtroom personnel go through customer service training.
Improving signage in the courthouse.
Have law students, college students, or volunteer attorneys act as docents in the courthouse.
Help fund loan repayment assistance programs for graduates entering public service.
Have pro-se days or special pro-se docket calls at the courthouse.
Utilizing technology such as Skype to ease wait times during docket calls.
I am grateful to the Illinois Supreme Court for providing a forum for this important discussion, and look forward to continuing to work with the Commission on Access to Justice toward the common goal of providing equal justice for all of the citizens of Illinois.
Pictured: Participants at the SIU School of Law Courtroom in Carbondale.