Our Blog


March 16, 2017

Counsel People in Police Custody

Circuit Court of Cook County Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans recently signed an order designating that individuals in police custody have access to an attorney. Prior to this, less than 1% of arrestees in Chicago police custody had an attorney. The Cook County Public Defender’s office and First Defense Legal Aid (FDLA) are joining forces to meet this need. FDLA needs your help to cover the shifts outside work hours. You can get trained to help on Tuesday, March 28th at noon at the ACLU office (180 N. Michigan).

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March 7, 2017

Chicago Legal Community Rallies Around Fundamental and Unifying Principle of Equal Access to Justice

Thousands of individual attorneys and legal professionals at more than 150 area law firms and companies are participating in the 2017 CBF Investing in Justice Campaign, which raises awareness and critical funding for pro bono and legal aid services in the Chicago area. Chaired this year by Jesse Ruiz, partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP, the Campaign officially kicked off with an evening reception for Campaign leaders at Drinker Biddle’s Chicago office on March 6th. The Campaign runs throughout the month of March.

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February 28, 2017

Immigration and Access to Justice: A Much Bigger Problem Than It Needs to Be

People come to America for the same basic reasons now as they have from the time of our nation’s founding: to seek economic opportunity and the American dream, to join their families, or to flee persecution or terror. We truly are a nation of immigrants, and from the start of our country to today, immigrants have played integral roles in our economy and in our communities.

Even if we had a well thought out and well-functioning immigration system that reflects these fundamental truths which no rational observer would mistake our current system for immigrants would have some unique needs for legal help, and many would also face additional challenges due to the language and cultural barriers they often confront.* Unfortunately, however, immigrants face far greater access to justice challenges today because we have a broken immigration system. These added challenges are unnecessary and ultimately counterproductive for all concerned, and expanding immigration enforcement without fixing the underlying systemic flaws will only make things worse.

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February 27, 2017

YLS Miami Nights 80’s Fun while Supporting the CBF

On February 24, the CBA Young Lawyers Section hosted Miami Nights, an event to benefit the CBF. Nearly 150 people from the legal community came together at the University Club for an 80’s-themed night of casino games, a poker tournament, fun, mingling, and charity. We’re extremely grateful to the YLS, and special thanks to YLS Public Service Manager Alex Memmen, the event committee, the volunteers, and YLS Director Jennifer Byrne. The YLS plays an important role in making the CBF’s work possible.

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February 27, 2017

Promoting Justice and Due Process for Immigrants for Over 30 Years

Growing up in El Salvador, sisters Maria and Ana lived in constant fear. A gang had forcibly recruited the older sister by threatening to harm the younger sister. On top of that, both siblings suffered significant child abuse from a family member. The sisters fled the country and sought safety in the U.S. Once in the Chicago area, they were connected with the National Immigrant Justice Center, one of the many outstanding organizations you support through the Investing in Justice Campaign. NIJC’s staff spent extensive time earning the children’s trust and learning their story. With NIJC’s legal assistance, Maria and Ana were granted asylum and can now begin their recovery in the United States.

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February 24, 2017

Immigration Pro Bono Opportunities

Interested in learning more about the ever-changing landscape of immigration-related pro bono opportunities? Check out Illinois Legal Aid Online’s roundup of volunteer opportunities assisting Chicago’s immigrant and refugee populations. You can also get trained on deportation defense on Thursday, March 16, 1:00-5:30 at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.

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February 23, 2017

Dina Merrell Elected to GCIR Board of Directors

Dina Merrell, Associate Director for the CBF, was recently elected to the Board of Directors for Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR), a national organization of foundations and grantmaking programs from throughout the country. Other new members joining the GCIR Board with Dina include Evan Bacalao from the Open Society Foundations, Shawn Morehead from the New York Community Trust, and Luna Yasui of the Ford Foundation. Congratulations, Dina!

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February 22, 2017

Eviction Court Name Change Legislation

The CBA and CBF are working with Representative Elgie Sims to spearhead legislation in Springfield (HB 3359) that simplifies the law governing evictions in Illinois by changing the confusing and archaic title of the Forcible Entry and Detainer Act and making other corresponding changes in the Act. By changing the name of the Act to […]

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February 21, 2017

Court Fees and Fines Reform Legislation

The CBF is part of a coalition of advocates working with legislators to reform Illinois’ byzantine system of court fees and fines in order to address barriers to access to justice associated with the fees and other court costs in civil, criminal, and traffic proceedings. One of the CBF’s legislative priorities this year is HB […]

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February 17, 2017

Newly Released: Grant Guidelines for Veteran and Military Family Hotline & Services

The centerpiece of the Access to Justice Act one of the CBF’s major legislative priorities the past three years is funding for a new legal hotline and network of services for Veterans and military families in Illinois. With the funding made possible by the Act now available for the new program, the Illinois Equal Justice Foundation has released their grant guidelines for organizations that want to apply to be part of the program. Grants are anticipated to be announced in the early summer.

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