On June 21, 2022, at 6:00 PM, Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts and the Chicago Council of Lawyers hosted their Seeds of Justice event, honoring Sharone Mitchell, Jr., the Cook County Public Defender, for his commitment to ensuring equitable and accessible justice for all people in Cook County.
Former Inspector General for the City of Chicago, Joe Ferguson, delivered the keynote address.
Both elements of the program can be viewed below...
Commitment to Justice Awardee
Sharone Mitchell, Jr.
Cook County Public Defender
Sharone Mitchell, Jr. is a passionate advocate for the rights of everyone represented by the Public Defender—one of the largest unified public defense offices in the nation, with nearly 700 employees, a budget of approximately $80 million, and 23 divisions and units. Before being nominated by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and sworn into office on April 1, 2021, Mr. Mitchell was the Director of the Illinois Justice Project (ILJP), where he worked to reduce inappropriate incarceration, improve community safety outcomes, and helped lead the Coalition to End Money Bond's successful effort to outlaw wealth-based pretrial incarceration in Illinois. He is a lifelong resident of Chicago, graduating from Morgan Park High School, attending the University of Illinois, and then earning a law degree from DePaul University College of Law. Mr. Mitchell is on the board of Chicago Debates, St. Leonard's Ministries, Live Free Chicago, and previously served on the Board of Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts.
Former Inspector General for the City of Chicago
Joe Ferguson recently concluded a 12-year tenure as the Inspector General for the City of Chicago. Under his stewardship, the OIG garnered national prominence for its government audits and inspections; creation of a public, user-friendly data visualization platform; and administrative and criminal investigations, including around CPD's actions after the police murder of teenager Laquan McDonald. Prior to being the Inspector General, Mr. Ferguson spent 15 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois; was an associate at Sidley Austin handling anti-trust, commercial litigation, and pro bono death penalty cases; and taught at several law schools, colleges, and in various roles for the U.S. Justice Department. Joe Ferguson is the co-founder and co-director of Loyola University Chicago Law School's National Security and Civil Rights program and is a 2022 Pritzker Fellow at the University of Chicago's Institute of Politics. He received his BA (and honorary Doctor of Laws) from Lake Forest College and JD from Northwestern University. His decades-long commitment to Chicago has yet to compromise his ardor for the professional sports teams from his native Boston.
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Chicago Appleseed and the Council of Lawyers have fought for the systemic changes needed to ensure fair and anti-racist courts in Cook County, Illinois, and beyond.
Together, we leverage the unique insights and best practices of members, volunteers, and community partners to interrupt cycles of poverty, mass incarceration, and racial injustice perpetrated by all aspects of the legal system. Through mixed-method, community-informed research, the Collaboration for Justice advocates for practical, evidence-based solutions to improve the quality of justice in Cook County.
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.
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