Thank you for visiting this page to learn more about who I am and why I am running for Circuit Judge. I look forward to meeting you in person at one of our upcoming events, so I can learn about what is important to you as a voter.
I am seeking election as Circuit Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit, which is a position voted on in 2020 by the voters of Champaign County. I will bring to the office a background of service to this community, pro-bono legal services to those who cannot afford representation, and broad knowledge about all aspects of the law over which a circuit judge presides.
I grew up with my twin sister and older brother in Normal, Illinois. Both of my parents were teachers. My husband, Juan, daughter, Ana, and I still love to visit them in Normal. Like many people in this community, I came to Champaign-Urbana to attend the University of Illinois and graduated with a bachelor of arts in 1995. I stayed in Champaign-Urbana, serving on the Urbana City Council and volunteering with organizations that work to end discrimination and expand people’s rights before I decided to go to law school. I graduated from the University of Illinois College of Law in 2004, and I was sworn in as a lawyer that fall.
In my 15 years as a licensed attorney and for more than 25 years living in Champaign County, I have represented and assisted community members and organizations in every aspect of the law and for every issue that comes before a circuit judge. From criminal jury trials to landlord-tenant cases to immigrants needing representation and everything in between, I want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard in our courtrooms, and that is what I will strive for as Circuit Judge.
I served on the Urbana City Council for eight years, where I helped pass laws that increased protections against discrimination, expanded recycling in our community, and increased government funding for social services. In addition to serving on the Council, I also volunteered on the legal team that fought back against attempts by a hospital to cut the Medicare 100 program for people in our community.
In 1938 my mom escaped Nazi Germany with her parents when she was only four years old because of her and our family’s religious beliefs. She and her parents were allowed entry into Chile. For 16 years, she was not a citizen of any country having lost her citizenship as a Jew in Germany and not having received citizenship in Chile until she was in her 20s. My family history has helped make me into who I am today and why I seek justice for those who are less fortunate.
Professionally, I do more pro-bono, free legal work, for those who cannot pay for representation than any other attorney in Champaign County. In 2017, I received the Champaign County Bar Association award for pro-bono representation, and in 2018 I received the Sixth Judicial Circuit community award for pro bono and legal services work. In 2019, I also received the CU Immigration Forum Business Leadership award for expanding legal representation for immigrants. Giving back to the community is very important to me. My family was helped when they needed it the most. I value that in people, so I strive to help the community to pay forward what others have done for my family.
Much of my law practice has been focused on representing those who cannot get legal representation, often because they cannot afford an attorney or because of their status as undocumented immigrants or the fact that they only speak Spanish. I am very proud of my work helping start a free legal clinic for immigrants. I continue to help the organization and the individuals needing help with everything from powers of attorney to orders of protection.
The first criminal defense client I took on after I started my own office was a young African American father who was charged with a crime he didn’t commit. His girlfriend’s parents asked me to take on the case because they could not afford any of the other private defense attorneys. The state offered him 17 years in prison as part of a plea. I took the case, met with the client in jail over the next several months as I prepared the case for trial. I requested and received additional documents that helped us prove his innocence. After the jury looked over the evidence for less than an hour, the verdict was ‘not guilty.’ Today, the client is not only actively involved in his son’s life (and helping out with his Cub Scouts Troop), but also recently was the first person ever in his family to receive a college degree. Now he is on the path to law school as well.
It is these kinds of cases that I will often take because I believe that everyone should have the right to legal counsel, regardless of the issue or allegation. I spent my entire career expanding pro-bono work in the community and working to ensure fair representation for everyone.
As a lawyer and member of our community for more than 25 years, I have represented people dealing with all aspects of the law, and I hope you believe in the work that I have done.
If I am elected Judge, I will continue working towards a justice system that ensures everyone’s voice is heard.
I look forward to meeting you soon!