On August 30, 2018, the Illinois Judicial Council (“IJC”) will install Illinois Appellate Court Justice Cynthia Y. Cobbs as its Chair for 2018-2019. The IJC, the Illinois association of primarily African-American Judges, will also install additional officers and directors during that event which will be held at the Marriott Marquis Chicago, 2121 South Indiana Ave. at 5:00pm.
In September 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Justice Cobbs by unanimous vote to serve as a trial judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County. In 2014, having been found qualified by all evaluating bar associations, Justice Cobbs was endorsed by the Cook County Democratic Party and was elected by an overwhelming majority of Cook County voters to continue serving in that position. After serving at the trial court level, Justice Cobbs was appointed by the Supreme Court to the Illinois Appellate Court, where she currently serves with distinction as a Presiding Justice. Justice Cobbs has served on numerous Illinois Supreme Court Committees, including Judicial Conduct, Judicial Performance Evaluations, Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions, and the Rules Committee, and she is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Judicial College.
Before serving as a Judge, Justice Cobbs served from 2002 to 2011 as the Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (“AOIC”). She was the first woman and the first African-American appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve as the Illinois judiciary’s administrator. As the Director, Justice Cobbs functioned as the chief executive officer for the Illinois Courts system, frequently interfacing with the Illinois legislative branch and agencies within the Illinois executive branch. Directing the five operational divisions of the AOIC, she developed and managed the Supreme Court’s $300 million annual budget, developed policies for the uniform delivery of the State’s adult and juvenile probation services, oversaw the development of judicial education programs for Illinois judges, advanced technology usage in Illinois courts, and developed policies for introducing e-filing and e-access in Illinois trial courts.
Before serving as Director of AOIC, Justice Cobbs served as its Chief Legal Counsel, as staff attorney in its Executive Division and, before her tenure with AOIC, as senior judicial law clerk to Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Freeman (now retired).
Justice Cobbs has received numerous awards including the 2018 Heman Sweatt Award at the 38th Annual National Bar Association (NBA) Mid-Year Conference in Chicago. The NBA is the national organization of African-American lawyers and judges. The award honors “trailblazers in the legal profession who exemplify the spirit of civil rights activist Heman Marion Sweatt.” Sweatt was best known for successfully challenging the “separate but equal” doctrine of racial segregation after he was refused admission to the School of Law of the University of Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court’ decided the case in Sweatt v. Painter (1950). She also received the Chicago-Kent College of Law Alumni Association’s Recognition Award (2006); the Chicago Bar Association’s Earl Burris Dickerson Award (2011); the Cook County Bar Association’s Judicial Award (2012); and the IJC’s Chairperson’s Award (2012).
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Morgan State University, a Masters degree in Social Work from University of Maryland, and a Juris Doctorate from IIT-Chicago Kent College of Law.