The Alliance of Illinois Judges ( AIJ ) held its second annual meeting June 23 at the Chicago Bar Association Building. Around 75 judges and attorneys attended. Chief Judge Honorable Timothy C. Evans presided in the swearing in of AIJ officers, including incoming President James E. Snyder and incoming Vice President Colleen Sheehan.
Fourteen LGBT judges of the Circuit Court of Cook County founded AIJ last year "to be a resource for our fellow judges and the legal community, and to be mentors for LGBT law students," according to the organization's website, www.theaij.com . At the meeting, Sheehan presented Judge Larry G. Axelrood with the 2010 Honorary Chairperson Award "with pride and friendship for a true commitment to equality," according to Sheehan. She added, "Judge Axelrood led the resolution to secure AIJ's formal support of pension equity rights for the spouses of LGBT judges." Pension laws do not accommodate LGBT equity, yet. Sheehan also talked about Axelrood's commitment to his belief that "LGBT judges and their families should be treated the same as him, his wife and their family."
"I understand that I'm being acknowledged for effort, but I hope that soon we'll celebrate success," said Axelrood. Axelrood also announced those judges nominated for AIJ offices: Aside from Snyder and Sheehan, there were Sebastian Patti, secretary; Stuart Katz, treasurer; Tom Chiola, past president and director; Sheryl Pethers, director; and Mary Colleen Roberts, director. The room unanimously agreed and Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans swore them into office.
Snyder spoke about the changes that have occurred since he entered law school, including the huge increase in the number of women and LGBT people serving as judges today. "That comes from a lot of things," said Snyder. "That comes from all of you being good colleagues, being good friends and being good teachers. And it particularly comes from the way in which we treat the public case by case, minute by minute, day by day, and that's something that's set by presiding judges and by Tim Evans."
"The LGBT judges are grateful for the strides that attorneys have made in the legal profession and we're proud of the lawyers and law students who are fighting the next battle," Snyder added. Commenting on the attendees, Evans said, "This is a gathering of some of the most talented and capable judges in our system."