Honorable Cynthia Y. Cobbs is a justice on the Illinois Appellate Court, 1st District where she has served since 2015. As an appellate court justice, she hears appeals of administrative decisions and final judgements in cases tried in the Cook County Circuit Court. Previously, Justice Cobbs served as a trial court judge, presiding over traffic cases, including DUIs and misdemeanors; breach of contract, subrogation and eviction cases; and civil jury trials.
Before joining the bench, Justice Cobbs served as Director of the Illinois Courts, becoming the first African American and the first woman ever appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to serve in that capacity. As Director, she advised the high court on every aspect of supervising and administering Illinois’ judicial branch of government, including legal matters and policy issues; served as ex-officio member of the court’s various committees, boards and commissions; oversaw the development and delivery of mandatory judicial education for all Illinois judges, as well as the uniform delivery of statewide probation services; advised the court on proposed amendments to rules of practice for Illinois attorneys; administered select supreme court rules including the appointment of associate judges and the temporary licensing of law students; interfaced with the General Assembly on proposed legislation affecting the judicial branch; and, developed and administered the Supreme Court’s annual multi-million dollar budget. Prior to her appointment as Director, Justice Cobbs served as Chief Legal Counsel in the Administrative Office, supervising the work of the office’s legal staff. Early in her legal career, she served as supreme court senior judicial law clerk to Supreme Court (Chief) Justice Charles E. Freeman.
Justice Cobbs currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Illinois Judges Association and is co-chair of the Association’s Pro Bono Committee. She also serves on the Board of Directors for South Suburban PADS, a not-for-profit organization delivering shelter and rehabilitative services to the southland’s homeless population. She previously served on the Supreme Court’s Judicial College Board, Lawyers Lend A Hand to Youth and various Supreme Court Committees, including the Rules Committee, Civil Jury Instructions, Judicial Performance and Evaluation and, Juvenile Justice. She is a past president of the Illinois Judicial Council, in which she holds a membership, in addition to the Cook County Bar Association, and the Black Women’s Bar Association.
She is the recipient of numerous awards and commendations, including, the Illinois Judges Association Civitatis Award; Supreme Court Judicial College Commendation; Cook County Bar Association Trailblazer Award; Cook County State’s Attorney CF Stradford Award, Chicago-Kent Ida Platt Award; National Bar Association Heman Sweatt Award; Omega Psi Phi Judicial Excellence Award; Chicago Bar Association Earl Burris Dickerson Award; Cook County Bar Association Kenneth E. Wilson Award; Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Crescent Moon Award; Chicago-Kent Alumni Association Recognition Award, and The Standish Willis Award.
Justice Cobbs received her B.A. in sociology from Morgan State University, Baltimore, Maryland; a Master’s Degree in clinical Social Work from the University of Maryland; and, her law degree from IIT-Chicago-Kent College of Law.