Illinois Supreme Court Expands Pro Bono Criminal Appeals Program

November 12, 2020 7:44 AM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

The Illinois Supreme Court recently announced the statewide expansion of the Volunteer Pro Bono Program for Criminal Appeals as of December 1, 2020. 

The initiative launched this past February to assist the Office of the State Appellate Defender with the backlog of criminal appeals that are pending before the Illinois Appellate Court.  Since the program’s inception, 78 attorneys have been approved to participate and 43 cases have been assigned to pro bono attorneys (33 in the First District and 10 in the Second District).   The program will now be expanding to all appellate districts and it provides a unique opportunity for appellate attorneys to get involved in pro bono service throughout Illinois.

You can participate by:

  1. Volunteering to handle a direct criminal appeal.  Complete details about the program’s parameters, eligibility criteria, and application are on the Court’s website.  Volunteer attorneys must be admitted for at least five years and have participated in two prior appeals or have served for at least two years in various governmental agencies or as a judicial clerk in a reviewing court.  Oral argument will be strongly considered in these appeals.
  2. Supervising an attorney who does not meet the eligibility criteria. Newly licensed attorneys and friends and colleagues who do not otherwise meet the eligibility criteria may handle these appeals under the supervision of a qualified appointed attorney. This is an excellent opportunity to help others get appellate experience.
  3. If you do not meet eligibility criteria, you can qualify by completing OSAD’s free, CLE-eligible online training program, “Criminal Appeals in Illinois: An Introduction to Law and Procedure.”  The training program is a 5-week online course intended to assist pro bono attorneys with substantive and procedural criminal law.  The training is offered on a quarterly basis by OSAD with the next seminar scheduled from January 4 - February 5, 2021.  To sign-up, please email the Office of the State Appellate Defender at You can also read more about the training program here.
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