First Illinois appellate judge seeks to inspire

By Dannis Valera

For the first time in history a judge of Latino descent joined the Illinois Appellate Court bench.

Judge Jesse Reyes won the seat earlier in March defeating four opponents. Before winning the seat, Reyes served as a judge on the Cook County Circuit Courts for a decade. He was fascinated by the work of appellate judges.

“I realized that the appellate court really has an input in the law in this state,” said Reyes. “I would say about 80 or 85 percent of the cases that are appealed are decided by the appellate court, so in many regards many of the case law that’s made in the state is made in the appellate court.”

This isn’t Reyes’ first time making a milestone as a judge. He also was the first Latino elected as a county wide trial judge and the first Latino elected to the Illinois Association.

As much as he enjoys the advances he’s made for his community, Reyes isn’t looking to just serve the Latino community.

“I’m going to serve the entire community, all of the people in the state of Illinois. I’m going to work to my utmost to be fair and objective in my rulings form the appellate bench.”

Growing up on Chicago’s south side, Reyes recalls not having many role models to look up to. With his position he hopes he can inspire young people to pursue things like higher education.

“They can take anything away from you, but the education you receive—no one can take that away from you,” said Reyes. “That’s the one message that I always communicate to the young people.