Press Release

NIU Law Alumnus Becomes First Latino Judge in Kane County

December 21, 2012

DeKalb, Ill.--Northern Illinois University College of Law alumnus Rene Cruz (’95) was recently appointed Associate Judge in the 16th Judicial Circuit of Illinois on November 26, 2012. His appointment makes him the first Latino judge ever to serve in Kane County, Illinois.

Cruz was selected for the judgeship from a pool of 36 candidates after 17 years of practicing law in Aurora, Illinois. Cruz most recently practiced as a partner and founder of the Law Offices of Gil & Cruz in Aurora, Illinois. He concentrated in all areas of law, including Personal Injury, Medical Malpractice, Worker’s Compensation, Real Estate, Criminal, and Family Law. Cruz has served as past president and legal counsel for the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, member of the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Board-Business Roundtable, and member of the Rasmussen College Advisory Board. In 2009, he was appointed by the mayor of Aurora to the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board and he sits on the Family Focus Advisory Board.

In addition, Cruz is an active member of the DuPage County Bar Association, and Illinois State Bar Association. In 2008, he was selected as the Hispanic Chamber Professional of the Year. Gil & Cruz was selected as the Aurora Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Small Business of the Year in 2005, 2007 and 2008. In 2010, Cruz was named Alumnus of the Year by the NIU Law Alumni Council for his exceptional career achievement, devotion to the public good, and dedication to the College of Law.

A native of Panama, Cruz graduated cum laude from The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, in 1992; and in 1995, he earned his J.D. degree, cum laude, from NIU Law. Along with being licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois and the United States' District Courts, Cruz is a member of the DuPage County Bar Association, Kane County Bar Association, and the Illinois State Bar Association.

Continuing a strong tradition of alumni who serve in the judiciary, NIU Law also recently added three other of its alumni to the distinguished list of graduates who serve in the judiciary: Leonardo Castro (’92), District Court Judge in the Second Judicial District of Minnesota; Chrystel L. Gavlin (’96), Associate Judge in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois; and John Benjamin “Ben” Roe IV (’00), Circuit Judge in the 15th Judicial Circuit Court of Illinois. Out of nearly 3700 alumni, NIU Law now has 83 judges that serve or have served throughout the state and across the county.


For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Alumni Events & Public Relations
(815) 753-9655 or