Illinois Supreme Court Launches Mentor Program for State Judges

January 27, 2010 Updated: January 27, 2010

CHICAGO—The Illinois Supreme Court recently announced an expansion of its judge mentoring initiative—a program designed to aid judges in the performance of their judicial duties.

As one of the largest state judiciaries in the nation, Illinois’ mentor program will be available to about 925 of the state’s circuit and associate judges. The initiative aims to train and assign judicial mentors to Illinois judges who seek to enhance their skills.

This new program is a continuation of an initiative announced last year by Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald and the administrative office of the Illinois Courts under Director Cynthia Y. Cobbs to improve public confidence in the courts and ensure judicial independence.

According to Director Cobbs, several states offer mentoring programs for new judges, but Illinois is believed to be unique in making such a program available to all of its judges.

“The Peer Mentor Judge program builds on the success of our New Judge Mentor Program and on the strategies implemented by the Court in December 2008,” said Director Cobbs in a statement. “It provides another tool to Illinois’ judiciary as part of our continuing efforts to sustain the high standard of judicial performance currently enjoyed by Illinois citizens.”

Judges are assigned to the Peer Mentor Program for a period of at least six months to a year. In addition to providing for self-referral, the chief circuit court judge can assign a mentor to individuals who could benefit from a confidential one-on-one relationship.

Training will be modeled after the successes of the New Judge Mentoring Program which has been considered a crucial tool in the training and development of new judges since 1998.

Follow Conan on Twitter: @ConanMilner