Illinois Judges Association

Pro Bono - January 2023 

     This month’s pro bono spotlight is on Justice Sanjay T. Tailor who recently joined the Illinois Appellate Court, First District. Justice Tailor has been a judge since 2003. He was an associate judge in Cook County serving in the Municipal, Domestic Relations, Law and Chancery Divisions. In January of 2021 he was appointed to a full circuit position (to which he was later elected) and then was named Presiding Judge of the County Division where he served until the Supreme Court assigned him to the First District in October of 2022.

     Throughout his judicial career, Justice Tailor has been an active member of the judicial community and the community at large. He was on the board of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest (BPI) for 25 years. BPI is a public policy institute whose mission is to combat systemic barriers to equity and fight for racial, economic and social justice. He was also a board president and director of Apna Ghar, a domestic violence agency serving the Asian American community in the Chicago area. He served on the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, Dean’s Diversity Council, and on Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes’s Asian American Advisory Council.

     Justice Tailor is active in the Lawyers Club of Chicago where he has served as President and as a Director. He is also active in the American Bar Association, the South Asian Bar  Association, the Asian American Judges Association and the South Asian Bar Association.  He also chaired a joint committee of the Illinois Judges Association and Illinois State Bar Association on civility and professionalism in the early 2000’s. This coming February he is leading a group of 25 judges on a 17 day trip through India.

     Justice Tailor recognized that one of the best ways a judge can serve is to respond to the problems he or she sees in his courtroom. When Judge Tailor was assigned to handle post-judgment matters in the Daily Center he and Judge Tom Donnelly persuaded CARPLS to staff a Self-Help Collection Desk to provide guidance to self-represented defendants.  Later when he was presiding judge of the County Division, he expanded a pilot project that enabled suburban residents with loved ones in mental health crisis to seek an emergency order for mental health evaluation in a suburban courthouse instead of the Daley Center.  He also persuaded the Cook County Board to enact legislation to reduce the court filing fee for adoption cases to make it more in line with the filing fee in the collar counties.  His last project before leaving for the appellate court was to promote an effort to revive a pro bono program for the civil asset forfeiture call, which, when implemented, will bring in lawyers to represent clients at risk of losing valuable assets. These are short hearings that will give lawyers trial experience and significantly even the playing field for the defendants.