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Delivering Justice: 2Civility Expands Professionalism Training to Appellate Courts

By: Mark C. Palmer, Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism

November 27, 2018

In 2018, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism continued to deliver and further develop its unique Courthouse Professionalism Training. This training program brings together representatives from every segment of the courthouse to consider ways they can increase their professionalism and service to those who access our judicial system. The training invites court personnel, judges, and practicing lawyers to step into the shoes of courthouse patrons to understand and appreciate their perspectives.

We concluded our 2018 Courthouse Professionalism Trainings on November 15, 2018 with the Second District Appellate Court in Elgin. The program was our first appellate-level training. More than 50 participants were able to experience this new training program – Delivering Justice: What’s My Role?

A Second District planning committee, chaired by Justice Kathryn Zenoff, worked with Commission staff to tailor the training to the specialized work done in the Appellate Court. Program attendees included justices, justices’ staff, research staff, and the Clerk’s office.

The training kicked off with parodies of professionalism vignettes between a clerk and self-represented litigant, a justice and her elbow clerk, and an elbow clerk and the Clerk’s office. The participants watched (and laughed) during this icebreaker exercise and were asked to put themselves into a role different from their daily one. Participants then engaged in a vibrant discussion on the challenges they face in delivering justice.

The three-hour training program continued with instructional portions on professionalism, implicit bias, mindfulness, and tools to promote professionalism. Small group discussions were facilitated to explore everyone’s role in delivering justice and enhancing professionalism in the entire process.

Courthouse Professionalism Trainings

2015

  • 14th Judicial Circuit in Rock Island
  • 8th Judicial Circuit in Quincy

2016

  • 18th Judicial Circuit in Wheaton
  • 19th Judicial Circuit in Waukegan

2017

  • City of Chicago Department of Administrative Hearings (four training sessions)

2018

  • 17th Judicial Circuit in Rockford
  • 10th Judicial Circuit in Peoria
  • 2nd District Appellate Court in Elgin
At the trial court level, the Commission continues to work closely with planning committees of stakeholders in each circuit or courthouse to customize training content to address specific professionalism issues that will resonate with participants.

Walk In Their Shoes: Courthouse Professionalism Training is the title of the training at the trial court level. All members of the courthouse working community are welcome to participate. This cross-disciplinary program includes judges, attorneys, courthouse security personnel, public defenders, state’s attorneys, clerks, court reporters, and other stakeholders involved in the administration of justice.

By the end of the program, participants recognize the challenges and perspectives of courthouse patrons and professionals, they understand the connection between civility and professionalism, and can apply strategies to improve courthouse patrons’ experiences and strengthen professionalism. Attorney participants receive two hours of professional responsibility CLE credit for the training.

In order to gauge the long-term benefits of the program, the Commission conducts a pre-program survey of participants and a post-program survey three months after the training. 

On June 8, 2018, 149 participants from the 17th Judicial Circuit Courts attended the Commission’s Courthouse Professionalism Training at the Veterans Memorial Hall and Museum in Rockford. Attendees included individuals from Winnebago and Boone Counties in the state’s attorney’s office, public defender’s office, sheriff’s office, circuit clerk’s office, court administration, probation services, jury commission, as well as language access facilitators, court reporters, judges, and private practice attorneys.

Approximately one-third of attendees were from Boone County and two-thirds were from Winnebago County. This was the first Courthouse Professionalism Training in which the post-program survey showed increases across all six measures.

 

Another 86 participants from the Peoria County Circuit Court attended the training on October 26, 2018. Peoria’s largest courtroom was packed for an afternoon of similar cross-disciplinary training for various segments of the courthouse, as well as the local private bar.

The Commission looks forward to facilitating this training at both trial and appellate courts throughout Illinois. Contact us at mail@2civility.org to learn more or find out if your courthouse will be administering a program.

As Professionalism Counsel at the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism,
Mark C. Palmer promotes civility and delivers statewide professionalism programming, including its mentoring program, dedicated to justice and the rule of law to lawyers and law students across Illinois.