All three branches of government came together at the Chicago Bar Association this week as Governor Pritzker, Chief Justice Burke, and new Senate President Don Harmon were among those who helped honor retiring Senate President John Cullerton and inaugurate the new CBA/CBF Rock Cullerton Access to Justice Award.
The award recognizes an organization for outstanding contributions to improving access to justice for the people of the State of Illinois. It is named for former Senate Presidents John Cullerton and Phil Rock, both exemplary leaders in these efforts.
The inaugural award was presented to the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation, which was created in 1999 by statute as the state’s vehicle for supporting access to justice statewide. The very first legislative finding in the Illinois Equal Justice Act, which created the IEJF, is just as prescient today as it was then:
“Equal justice is a basic right that is fundamental to democracy in this State, and the integrity of this State and this State’s justice system depends on protecting and enforcing the rights of all people.”
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, the IEJF continues to be an exemplary state program and an integral partner in The Chicago Bar Foundation’s mission to improve access to justice for people in need and make the legal system more fair and accessible for everyone.
Along with the Governor, Chief Justice, and new Senate President, other leaders who spoke at the event were Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis; John “Jay” Rock, son of late Senator Phil Rock; Attorney General Kwame Raoul; Jesse Ruiz, Illinois Deputy Governor and CBA President; and Steve Weiss, CBF President. Larry Suffredin, CBA Legislative Counsel, served as the master of ceremonies.
Attorney General Raoul joined leaders from the IEJF to accept the award at the event.