Illinois State Bar Association Applauds Increase in Court Funding
John E. Thies, president of the Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA), today applauded the action of the Illinois General Assembly to increase court funding to $302.3 million, up from $281.1 million last year.
“With the leadership of the Illinois Supreme Court, and especially Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, we have begun what we all hope will be a sustained commitment to reverse the reduction in court funding, thereby ensuring that courts continue to provide their constitutionally-mandated services to the people of Illinois,” Thies said, continuing: “It remains an important priority of our Association to work with the Supreme Court, the Conference of Chief Judges, the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts and the rest of the organized bar to achieve this goal.”
During his term as president, Thies advocated for an increase in court funding. He established a Special Committee on Fair and Impartial Courts, co-chaired by Kane County Judge Patricia P. Golden (Ret.), of West Dundee, and Illinois Appellate Court Justice James M. Wexstten, of Mt. Vernon. Their 64-page report, which addressed the serious funding crisis facing Illinois courts, was accepted on May 17 at a meeting of the ISBA Board of Governors.
“The committee’s report stopped short of saying that the current court system could not do its job, but it recognized that the breaking point was near,” Thies stated.
To identify the areas of special concern, the ISBA special committee surveyed the chief judges of each judicial district in Illinois, as well as practicing lawyers. They then identified several problem areas and made recommendations that included educating constituencies, monitoring problem areas when court funding is in danger, and streamlining processes. The recommendations in the report also included the fact that “immediate, practical steps must be taken by the legislature to stop the erosion of funding for the judicial branch. More predictable budgets, an increase in dollar funding, and more equitable treatment of courts in the budget process are essential to prevent a deepening of the problems facing the justice system.”
The 32,000-member ISBA (isba.org), with offices in Springfield and Chicago, provides professional services to Illinois lawyers, and education and services to the public.
NOTE: “Report on the Funding Crisis in the Illinois Courts” is available at http://www.isba.org/committees/fairandimpartialcourts
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