Judge Sharon Oden Johnson B&W Headshot

Judge Sharon Oden Johnson, Chair

It is with great honor that I serve as the Chair of the Illinois Judicial Council for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. Thanks to our membership, we have made a smooth transition from last years theme of “Our-Courts-Our Families-Our Future”, under Judge Dominique Ross’ leadership, to this years theme of Courts Connecting with Communities.

Over the years, there has been a growing disconnect between Judges and the communities they serve. The public trust in the judicial system needs to be restored. We can restore their trust by educating, mentoring, and facilitating purpose driven dialog. The mission of the Illinois Judicial Council is to enhance the image of the judiciary, support our members, and to serve the community.

Many of our court calls are inundated with self represented persons. Many times they are intimidated and unsure of what to expect from the process. This year we will continue and expand our commitment to engage and educate communities by attending community forums hosted by churches, block clubs, and other community organizations. I believe this will narrow the gap between the judiciary and the people we serve.

There is a frequently used quote that says, “You cant be what you cant see.” I wholeheartedly agree. This is why, during my tenor as chair, the Illinois Judicial Council will continue to support the youth programs such as Robes in the Classroom, PUSH Excel Oratorical Contest, and the Juvenile Justice Symposium (co-sponsored by University of Chicago School of Law).

We will also continue to support the Cook County Bar Association by securing judges for Law Day, participating in the annual joint meeting, and participating in their judicial mentoring program. In keeping with our mission, we will continue to support the Illinois Judicial Council Foundation with the selection of scholarship recipients from our Illinois Law Schools.

We will also strengthen our relationships with other judicial and bar associations as well as support our members through judicial education and leadership development.

We will further expand our community relations by connecting with and exchanging best practices with judicial brothers and sisters both nationally and internationally. Our member Judge Leonard Murray is the Chair of the National Bar Association Judicial section. His tenor has opened opportunities for our local IJC members to lead on a national platform. We will work with him to increase the reach of the IJC brand. Our members will continue to facilitate efforts to support Haitian and other international initiatives. There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast then go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” I hope you will join us.

Judge Sharon O. Johnson