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Collab for Justice - 2020 October Forum

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.


For more than thirty years,

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.

In October, the Collaboration for Justice will convene with these experts on

three occasions to examine where court structures, culture, and policy impede justice.



October 9th, 2020


Signing a Contract

Vision for Collaborative

Justice Reinvestment

MODERATOR: Maya Dukmasova

Staff Writer, Chicago Reader

Access to money should not determine access to justice, but all too often, courts function as arenas where only those who can afford the expense can experience positive outcomes. The only way to ensure justice for all in any tangible way is by reallocating funds from punitive court practices (like excessive and regressive court costs/fees, fines, and ticketing, for example) that disproportionately harm Black, Brown, and low-income people, to anti-racist, restorative programs such as pre-arrest diversion, community-based courts, and other methods that prioritize community wellbeing over profit.


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. 

Program Panelists Include...

Mary Patillo

Harold Washington Professor of Sociology and

African American Studies at Northwestern University

& Chicago Appleseed Board Member

Annie McGowan

Senior Research Associate, Civic Federation

Alexandra Block

Partner, Miller Shakman Levine & Feldman & Co-Chair of Criminal Justice Advisory Committee to Chicago Appleseed and Chicago Council of Lawyers

Ben Ruddell

Criminal Justice Policy Director, ACLU-Illinois

Amanda Pyron

Executive Director, The Network

Alison Spanner

Assistant Director, Access to Justice Division, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC) & Adjunct Professor, Loyola University School of Law


Signing a Contract

New Directions for the Office of the Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court

Chicago Appleseed, Chicago Council of Lawyers, and Civic Federation (September 22, 2020)

"Court Costs, Fines, and Fees are Bad Policy: Recommendations for Illinois Legislators"

Chicago Appleseed & Chicago Council of Lawyers (July 2020)

The Race to Repair Dorothy Brown’s Office

Mari Cohen for Chicago Magazine (January 22, 2020)


For the First Time in 16 Years, Chicago’s Eviction Court is on Tape

Maya Dukmasova for Chicago Reader (October 30, 2019)


"The “Terrible” Consequences of Chicago’s Ticketing Policies"

Helga Salinas for ProPublica Illinois (July 27, 2018)


"The Case for Recording Devices in Cook County Eviction Courts

Chicago Appleseed & Chicago Council of Lawyers (July 2016)

Modern Chicago Skyline


October 16th, 2020


Judge's Table

Improving the Bench: Importance of Judicial Quality and Diversity in Cook County

A high-quality judiciary - the foundation of equitable and effective courts - relies on public oversight of the performance of sitting judges. In Cook County, some judges are elected by the public on a countywide or precinct (“Subcircuit”) basis; others - Associate Judges - are peer-elected by a majority of sitting judges after an application process. Associate Judges submit applications to the Illinois Supreme Court at the end of their four-year term in order to be retained, whereas Circuit and Subcircuit judges must campaign for reelection every six years (for all three types of judges, nearly all who run for retention are retained). 


In 2013, a Chicago Appleseed analysis of the 397 sitting judges in Cook County suggested that the Associate judge process was leading to a higher-quality, more diverse judiciary than did the public election process, but more recent findings show no real difference in the racial composition of judges - regardless of whether they are appointed or elected. In order to make informed ballot decisions, the public must have access to transparent and objective reports of individuals judges’ histories, behaviors, and practices. Join us as we discuss the importance of voting for judges and 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.

Program Panelists Include...

A special thank you to our generous sponsors for their support...

Stevie Valles

Executive Director, Chicago Votes

Jen Dean

Co-Deputy Director, Chicago Votes

Travis Richardson

Former Cook County Judge

Rick Tulsky

Co-Founder, Injustice Watch

Malcolm Rich

Executive Director, Chicago Appleseed and Chicago Council of Lawyers

Elizabeth Monkus

Staff Attorney & Program Manager, Chicago Appleseed and Chicago Council of Lawyers


Judge's Table

Ask an Expert: Bar Association Ratings, Explained

John Seasley for Injustice Watch (September 22, 2020)

"What's a judicial retention election, anyway?"

Jonah Newman for Injustice Watch (August 25, 2020)

What are Central Panels Up to?

Hon. Mary Shock for This Month in Administrative Law (February 25, 2020)

"Cook County Judicial Elections Stir Up Unusual Public Scrutiny

Maya Dukmasova for Chicago Reader (November 1, 2018)

"Electing Judges in Cook County: The Role of Money, Political Party, and Voters

Chicago Appleseed & Chicago Council of Lawyers (April 2003)

Image by Austin Neill


October 23rd, 2020


Image by Bill Oxford

Reshaping Criminal "Justice"

in Cook County and Illinois

MODERATOR: Nicole Gonzalez Van Cleve

PhD, Associate Professor of Sociology, Brown University

Chicago Appleseed and the Chicago Council of Lawyers are actively and collaboratively working to improve all areas of our criminal system – with the primary focus being on decarceration, justice, and racial equity. “Justice” can be seen as many things by many different people, but our definition requires a fair and restorative system, equitable treatment, and due process. 


Join our staff and allies in a discussion about the state of criminal “justice” in Illinois and our collective initiatives aimed to improve it - including everything from ending money bond; ensuring the enforcement of core constitutional rights; evaluating and designing individual Cook County programs; and much more.

Program Panelists Include...

A special thank you to our generous sponsors for their support...

Sharone Mitchell

Director, Illinois Justice Project & Chicago Appleseed Board Member

Amy Campanelli

Cook County Public Defender

Ali Abid

Program Coordinator, Cook County Justice Advisory Council

Alexa Van Brundt

Professor of Law & Director of the MacArthur Justice Center Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Jobi Cates

Executive Director & Founder, Restore Justice

Randolph Stone

Retired Professor of Law & Director of the Madel Legal Aid Clinic at University of Chicago Law School

Sarah Staudt

Senior Policy Analyst & Staff Attorney, Chicago Appleseed and Chicago Council of Lawyers

Collab for Justice - 2020 October Forum


Image by Bill Oxford

"Cook County Courts Massively Behind on Criminal Cases"

Sarah Staudt for Chicago Appleseed & Chicago Council of Lawyers (September 24, 2020)

"Cook County E-Court: Evaluating the Circuit Court's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Looking Toward the Future"

Chicago Appleseed & Chicago Council of Lawyers (August 2020)


"Examination of the Quality and Capacity of Stationhouse Representation in Cook County

Chicago Appleseed & Chicago Council of Lawyers (August 2020)


Why is the Cook County Jail Population Rising?

Connor Echols & Jonah Newman for Injustice Watch (July 17, 2020)


Amid One of the Nation’s Worst Coronavirus Outbreaks, a Shortage of Ankle Monitor Kept Some People in Jail

Kira Lerner for The Appeal (June 2, 2020)

"Vision for a Just Pretrial System: How to End Money Bond and Increase Pretrial Freedom"

Coalition to End Money Bond (January 2020)

A special thank you to our generous sponsors for their support...


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Alexandra Block

Malcolm Rich

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Judd Miner

Nicole Jakubowski

Nicholas Siciliano

Ann MacDonald

Jonathan Pilsner and Sarah Siderius

John Jacobs


Matt Daniels

Rachel Niewoehner

Sonya Naar



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Kathryn L. Welter and Richard Bieterman III

Barry Fields

Aviva Futorian

Image by Pedro Lastra

"When it comes to Chicago Appleseed and the Collaboration for Justice, I always talk about it as an

INVESTMENT versus a donation. I feel like Chicago Appleseed has done so much work to try to fundamentally

change the infrastructure of this city, and restore some degree of equity and justice in the Chicago courts."

Eamon and Kay Daly

Chicago Residents, and Longtime Financial Supporters of the Collaboration for Justice

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