Yolanda Harris Sayre fights for equity and access for all – The Southland Journal

Yolanda Harris Sayre fights for equity and access for all (Chicago, IL) — Yolanda Harris Sayre never had aspirations to be a judge. She just knew she was starting to get a reputation for treating self-represented litigants fairly and allowing them to be heard. “I basically helped understand the process, without making the lawyers feel like they were at a disadvantage either,” Sayre said. “My colleagues started hearing my hearings, listening and they started encouraging me to be a judge and I worked with retired judges, and they kept saying, you have to be a judge.”

Sayre is running for Cook County Judge. “Eventually, I felt like I got many, many signs from above from God to do this. I mean scary signs that were pretty amazing to me,” she said.

career achievement

Sayre is a lawyer, arbitrator and describes herself as a problem solver. Her career began at the Texas Attorney General’s office, where she worked for three years in law school and learned the fundamentals of litigation. There she practiced with a student bar card and took on fraudulent bankers and insurers, earning millions of dollars for the people of Texas. His career in Chicago began with temporary internships at the law firms Freeman & Freeman and Mayor, Brown & Platt. Deciding not to pursue a major law firm, she accepted a position with a community organization – Chicago Alliance for Neighborhood Safety. Since then, she has spent most of her career in public service. She started with the Chicago Police Department as one of the first community policing and diversity management trainers. There, she taught large groups of community members and police officers from the 7th, 11th, 18th, and 25th Districts how to work together to solve neighborhood problems, including crime and disorder.

“I believe fairness is important. I believe it’s critical to help people navigate a very, very difficult system,” Sayre said. “Our justice system is difficult. It is difficult for lawyers, let alone for unrepresented litigants. The number of people who have to represent themselves in court is increasing.

Access for all

Another of his important beliefs continues to be access.

“There are people with language barriers who also have difficulty accessing justice. I’m African American, but I’m fluent in Spanish. I learned when I was little when I was a baby and grew up in the islands. I stopped the hearings because I knew the interpreter didn’t understand well. I could tell based on how the person answered the question,” Sayre added. “I speak well enough to understand whether or not someone is getting a fair interpretation. It’s important for me too because there are many, many people who have language barriers. So between economics, language barriers and issues like that, I think it’s important to help increase access.

In her efforts to help improve the criminal justice system, she has worked on countless volunteers and voluntarily projects such as teaching Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses to criminal attorneys, providing free legal advice to community residents, and acting as advocates at the annual Expungement Summit to help people obtain housing and employment by expunging their records of offenses eligible for sealing or expungement. She also taught and mentored thousands of high school students considering careers in the public sector through a high school program called the Chicago Police and Firefighter Training Academy.

Yolanda Harris Sayre fights for equity and access for all

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