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Aurora attorney relishes chance to be Kane’s first Latino judge

Kane County judge Rene Cruz

Kane County judge Rene Cruz

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Updated: January 7, 2013 4:36PM

As of Monday, longtime Aurora attorney Rene Cruz will have a different post to continue his service to the community.

For the last 17 years he’s offered his legal services to non-English speaking Latinos who often have nowhere else to turn. In less than a week, he will become an associate judge in the family court of the 16th Judicial Circuit, which includes Kane, Kendall and DeKalb counties.

“In my legal career, everything I’ve done has been about service,” Cruz said Tuesday.

Cruz is set to become Kane County’s first Latino judge. He is excited to take on his new responsibilities, but will be sad to leave his practice. The Gil & Cruz firm’s niche of helping Latinos kept him busy. It is a general practice firm, meaning they take on mostly family, criminal and immigration cases.

The work that he is the most proud of stems from being able to help those who had nowhere else to turn to in the legal system, he said. Cruz and the other attorneys at the firm often took pro bono cases to help Latinos in the community that otherwise would not have been able to afford legal council.

His name will be removed from his firm’s letterhead, and for an extended period of time he will not be able to hear any cases that come from attorneys at the firm.

As a judge, Cruz does want to continue to use his position to give back to the community. Cruz said he will take his role representing the Latino community on the bench seriously.

“With this appointment comes a larger responsibility,” he said.

Cruz earned a bachelor’s degree from the Citadel Military College in South Carolina, and a law degree from the Northern Illinois University School of Law in 1997. Cruz is a self-described army brat, and said that Kane County is the longest he’s called one place home throughout his life. He’s enjoyed the area immensely, he said.

“The local community has embraced me, and the legal community has embraced me,” he said.

Kane County Board member Jesse Vazquez has been a proponent for Cruz’s appointment. Cruz deserves the appointment, and the Latino community deserves representation in the courts, he said.

“Government has to represent the people, and there’s a large Latino population in Kane County,” he said.

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