Appointed by an order of the Illinois Supreme Court, I took the oath of office on November 27, 2017 to temporarily fill a vacancy on the Circuit Court of Cook County. I am truly humbled to be the first male Latino appointed to a county-wide judicial vacancy. The election will determine whether I can keep this honorable position.
I am a strong judicial candidate with a broad range of legal skills. Licensed since 1994, I have 23 years legal experience practicing in a variety of legal fields – criminal, civil, and administrative matters. In my first eight years out of law school, I represented underprivileged citizens in their hours of greatest need as an Assistant Public Defender. I worked my way up the seniority ranks of that office in various divisions. For the last 14 years, I have had private practice experience, focusing mostly on criminal defense but also helping clients with employment, immigration and other civil issues. Through these two positions, I have tried 10 criminal jury trials and over 500 criminal bench trials in my career. In addition to representing clients, I also served as a part-time Administrative Law Judge from 2003 to 2012 for the Illinois Department of Employment Security (the agency that decides unemployment claims). The quasi-decision making experience and training that I received in that practice has further helped prepared me for the bench.
I believe that serving as a judge is a very important community service roll that should be filled by qualified, experienced, impartial people who can also effectively manage a busy courtroom such that all participants are fairly treated with respect and justice. My career goal has been to be such a judge, and I have been trying to prepare myself for this responsibility.
My father had to flee Fidel Castro's Cuba as a 14-year old in 1962. He met my mother at Oak Park River Forest High School. I was born in 1968, raised in Melrose Park. I spent my high school years in Miami Florida and earned a full scholarship to the University of Michigan, where I met my wife, Dawn M. Gonzalez. We married in 1991, right before law school started - me at IIT Chicago Kent College of Law, and she at DePaul University College of Law. We have two wonderful high school aged sons, who are both excited to work on this campaign
Community service runs in the family. My wife was the 2004-2005 President of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois and has served with numerous bar and civic organizations. I too have been deeply committed to volunteer service throughout my career, through the following activities in the Illinois bar and my local community:
• 14th Ward Volunteer Legal Clinic, President, founded in March 2005
• Volunteer, Democratic Party of Oak Park, 2010 to present
• Illinois Judges Assoc. Foundation, Lawyers’ Auxiliary Board, 2011 to present
• Illinois Assoc. of Administrative Law Judges, Board Member 2006 to 2007, Secretary 2009 to 2012
• WILPower PAC, Board Member 2005 to 2010, Secretary 2009; Vice-Chair 2010
• Women’s Bar Assoc. Illinois, Member Judicial Eval. Com., 1999 to 2007
• Puerto Rican Bar Assoc., Member Judicial Eval. Com., 2003 to 2007
• Madison Street Theatre, Oak Park, IL, Board Member 2011 to present, President 2015 to present
• Oak Park Residence Corporation, Board Member 2013 to present
• Holmes Elementary School, Oak Park, PTO, Vice President of Academic Affairs, 2007 to 2011