June 15, 2012

Jenner & Block Partner Jeffrey D. Colman has been appointed chair of the newly created Illinois Supreme Court Commission on Access to Justice.   Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride selected Mr. Colman to lead the 11-person commission, which is charged with promoting, facilitating and enhancing equal access to justice for all people in the state, but particularly the poor and vulnerable.  The Commission is made up of five judges, five lawyers and one lay person. The Commission will focus on access to the Illinois civil courts and administrative agencies and is intended to complement and collaborate with other entities in Illinois which are already addressing access to justice issues.

The announcement of the new Commission was reported in various media statewide, including the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, the Springfield State Journal-Register, and ISBAIllinois Lawyer Now.  In describing the goals of the commission to The Madison/St. Clair Record, Mr. Colman stated, “It is a very broad-based, diverse commission with expansive duties to recommend any kinds of proposals we can come up with to improve access to our courts for everyone.  We will be exploring everything from the kinds of forms that are used and how those forms can be made simpler and easier to understand to language barrier issues.  We are going to explore every possible idea that would help make the judicial system more accessible.”

The Supreme Court’s press release regarding the formation of the commission noted that Mr. Colman has been “long a champion of delivering legal services to those who cannot afford them.”  

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A nationally recognized litigator and Fellow of the prestigious American College of Trial Lawyers, Mr. Colman has received numerous awards for his extensive pro bono and public service activities.  Among others, in 2011 Mr. Colman was named a “Chicago Legal Legend” by the American Constitution Society; in 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association presented Mr. Colman with an Award for Excellence in Pro Bono Service; and in 2008 the John Howard Association of Illinois, a prison reform group, recognized Mr. Colman’s work defending Guantanamo Bay prisoners with its Leadership Award.  Mr. Colman has served on the Illinois Supreme Court’s Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases, as well as Chairman of its Committee on Post-Conviction Review of Death Sentences.  He also has served as a member of a host of not-for-profit organizations devoted to providing legal assistance to the poor and disenfranchised in our community.