ATJ Commission Launches Website to Simplify Court Experience for SRLs

This week, the Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice (ATJ Commission) announced the launch of its websitewww.atjil.orgThis website contains legal information, standardized court forms, and resources for court staff who interact with SRLs and Limited English Proficient (LEP) litigants regularly 

The number of SRLs in Illinois has been rising rapidlyIn 2019, SRLs filed about 90,000 civil cases in Illinois, according to the 2019 Illinois Courts Annual Report. At the appellate court level, 41% of civil appeals filed statewide last year were filed by SRLs.  

The website is part of the ATJ Commission’s 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, which outlines principles and initiatives aimed at enhancing access to justice and improving the experience of those who access the courts 

“This website is a necessary step in ensuring SRLsLEP litigants, and court staff are connected with the resources that the Commission has developed to help a person understand and navigate the civil court system,” said Alison D. SpannerAssistant Director of the Access to Justice Division at the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC).  

Information gap for SRLs 

In 2019, the ATJ Commission interviewed SRLs about their experiences with the judicial system, which revealed frustration around attempts to use the judicial system without the help of a lawyer.  

I think there should be…a walkthrough of what you would want to do because you are representing yourself. And there was no information anywhere. I had to find that information out when I was already in court and would lose because…it [was too late],” commented one participant.  

To fill the information gap, the ATJ Commission outlined plans to continue developing accessible self-help services and resources for court userscourt stakeholders, and justice partners assisting court users. The next phase of the ATJ Commission’s work is to ensure the resources get into the hands of those who need them the most. As a first step, the new website, designed to be easy to navigate, includes information for court users on how to start, respond to, and appeal a case, as well as plain language court forms to aid with legal issues.  

For court stakeholders, like judges, clerks, court staff, interpreters, lawyers, and law students, the website provides resources including the AOIC’s Court Interpreter Registry, instructions to litigants about how to appear remotely, and information to assist lawyers who want to offer limited scope representation as part of their service offerings, among others.  

The website can be translated into Spanish, and many of the resources are available in Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Russian, Polish, and Arabic. 

Enhancing Equal Access to Justice  

The Illinois Supreme Court established the ATJ Commission in 2012 to promote, facilitate, and enhance equal access to justice with an emphasis on access to the Illinois civil courts and administrative agencies for all people, particularly the poor and vulnerable.   

The Commission is composed of 11 Commissioners who are appointed for three-year terms. The Supreme Court appoints seven members, while The Chicago Bar Foundation, Lawyers Trust Fund of Illinois, Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, and Illinois Bar Foundation each name a Commissioner. Justice Thomas L. Kilbride serves as the Supreme Court liaison. 

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Laura Bagby
As Communications Director, Laura develops and executes strategy to elevate the Commission among attorneys and judges in Illinois. Laura leverages communications channels to educate and engage with the legal community in support of the Commission’s mission of increasing civility and professionalism to enable the administration of justice. When she’s not in the office, you’ll find Laura taking in a show at one of Chicago’s top-notch theatres, planning her next international trip or hanging out in Lincoln Park with her one-eyed Chihuahua, Manny.
Laura Bagby

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Laura Bagby
As Communications Director, Laura develops and executes strategy to elevate the Commission among attorneys and judges in Illinois. Laura leverages communications channels to educate and engage with the legal community in support of the Commission’s mission of increasing civility and professionalism to enable the administration of justice. When she’s not in the office, you’ll find Laura taking in a show at one of Chicago’s top-notch theatres, planning her next international trip or hanging out in Lincoln Park with her one-eyed Chihuahua, Manny.
Laura Bagby

2 thoughts on “ATJ Commission Launches Website to Simplify Court Experience for SRLs

  1. Judicial System in Illinois is far worse than that in most third world countries. We should go back to magistrates and I would apply for the position. Most judges have no clue about the law. They are sitting and writing the law from the bench to suit contributors to their campaigns. There should be a constitutional amendment to ensure that all judges are elected every four years and not retained. Retention was meant so the judges do not receive any campaign contributions from litigants and attorneys who appear before them. A judge should not have discretion to legislate from the bench. Judges Evans and Dischler should have their law licenses taken away.

  2. The family law system harmed me and my kids. While I work with children at the hospital, I cannot see or talk to my own kids due to the family court corrupted judge and GAL.

    In my 2.5 years on and off representing myself (most of the time representing myself), none of my pleadings were heard. The scheduled trial was denied to me, although the transcript shows that I begged for it.

    In 2.5 years I ended up filing three complaints against my judge for not hearing my pleadings and ruling in an extremely biased against a pro se manner, none of which were investigated.

    Please get rid of bad judges/lawyers/GALs, by either investigating complaints.

    Mandatory electronic recordings in all courtrooms is a must, to hold all involved accountable.

    Last but not least, requiring Due Process in the family courts and following the law/US Constitution would be nice too. My constitutional rights were grossly denied to me. I have no criminal background, yet I was criminally punished without due process. The court took away my children by ordering a No Contact, solely based on false allegations (whereas before court involvement I had a loving relationship with my kids).

    I suffer severe negative health consequences that one could simply describe as “unending grief”, and my kids suffer panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and self-harm.

    “Thank you”, judge Collins of Lake County, IL; and GAL Joseph Poell! – You don’t deserve taxpayers’ funding.

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