Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



ELECTIONS 2024: JUDICIAL IL Supreme Court candidate Jesse G. Reyes on why he's running, judicial diversity
by Carrie Maxwell

This article shared 6968 times since Fri Feb 16, 2024
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Current First District, Fourth Division Illinois Appellate Court Justice Jesse G. Reyes is running for Illinois Supreme Court Justice. Reyes is running against current Illinois Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham in the March 19 primary. Cunningham serves alongside Chief Justice Mary Jane Theis and Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. in the Cook County designated First District.

The Illinois Supreme Court has a 5-2 Democratic majority following the 2022 election victories for Justices Elizabeth Rochford (Second District) and Mary Kay O'Brien (Third District).

Prior to Reyes' current role as the first-ever Latine Illinois Appellate Court Justice, he was a Cook County Circuit Court associate and elected judge who was assigned to the Chancery Division's Mortgage Foreclosure/Mechanics Lien Section, Domestic Violence Court and the Sixth Municipal District. He has been a member of the judiciary since Dec. 1997.

As a lawyer, Reyes represented the Chicago Board of Education and the City of Chicago. He received his B.A. from University of Illinois at Chicago and his J.D. from the John Marshall Law School.

Reyes was raised in Chicago's Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods. He has received numerous awards centered on promoting diversity in the legal profession, including the Chicago Bar Association Justice John Paul Stevens Award; Decalogue Society of Lawyers Charles E. Freeman Judicial Merit Award; Vanguard Award; HLAI Vanguard Award; LAGBAC Foundation Distinguished Jurist Award; LAP Hon. John Crowley Award; and Women's Bar Association of Illinois Mary Heftel Hooton Award.

Additionally, Reyes has been rated highly qualified by the Illinois State Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association; highly recommended by the Cook County Bar Association, Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois and the Puerto Rican Bar Association; and recommended or qualified by all the other groups that are a part of the Alliance of Bar Associations for Judicial Screening, including LAGBAC. He also formerly served as the president of the Illinois Judges Association, the Latin American Bar Association and the UIC School of Law Alumni Association.

Whomever wins this primary will be unopposed in the November General Election-There is no Republican running for this seat. Should Reyes win this primary, he would become the first Latine member of Illinois highest court in its history.

Windy City Times: Why did you decide to run for this seat?

Jesse G. Reyes: The Illinois Supreme Court is a two-tiered court that hears cases that everyone is familiar with, and also the creator and implementer of the various rules and regulations we all have to abide by throughout the state, and I want to lend my voice to that. The Illinois Supreme has done some good things, but I think more needs to be done to create access to justice and I know we can do better in Illinois in that regard.

For example, when I was in the traffic court, I helped create a DVD for Spanish and Polish-speaking people, and also young people, advising of their all their rights and the consequences of driving under the influence of any controlled substances.

In the mortgage foreclosure area, I saw that the statute was definitely drafted by the lenders. I created a program that would level the playing field between the homeowner pro se litigants and the lenders' lawyers, to make sure that the people who were representing themselves knew what their rights were. That helped a lot of people save their homes and I took that upon myself to make it happen.

When I became the chair of the executive committee at the appellate court, we reformed some of our internal rules to move the appeals process [to be more] fair for everyone, including official appeals letters being sent out in multiple languages.

With the SAFE-T Act, I brought all the stakeholders together once the Illinois Supreme Court found it constitutional to make sure everybody was on the same page in terms of how we were going to proceed. We found some discrepancies in the forms that the Supreme Court was requiring us to utilize, and particularly the lawyers, and we sent those recommendations to the court who ultimately incorporated them into the forms that are now in use.

I have always been progressive in terms of looking at problems and I want to lend that voice to the Illinois Supreme Court, to be a part of the conversation the court has when it comes to implementing new or modified rules and regulations.

WCT: How has the campaign gone so far?

JR: It's been going well. We are getting support from all over Cook County. Even though I wasn't the slated candidate, we ended up with over 16,000 signatures when we filed our petitions which is many more than the 4,000 that were required. A lot of people were calling us from around the county and asking if we needed any help. This cooperation extended from as far north as Glenview, down to Chicago Heights and into River Forest, and in the city by the lakefront and out to Orland Park. We are really enthused about the support we are getting and have out-raised my opponent in the last quarter. A lot of these contributions are small dollar amounts from everyday people, alongside larger donations from law firms.

WCT: What differentiates you from your Democratic primary challenger Illinois Supreme Court Justice Joy Cunningham?

JR: I tend to be more progressive in the sense of looking at problems and how to address them. I have been on the court for more years than Justice Cunningham in various assignments. When I first started as a circuit court judge, I went to the chief judge and said that if anyone calls in sick, goes on vacation, retires or dies, I would be happy to volunteer and they took me up on that offer in the first few years. This meant that I sat in every branch court in the system. I am willing to get in there and do the work.

Two things I would like to tackle, that haven't been implemented yet by the Illinois Supreme Court, is the way implicit bias is handled by the court system to make it mandatory, not at the discretion of the judge and particularly in the jury setting, and also change instructions so they are gender-neutral.

WCT: How will your current and previous judicial positions and legal representation roles affect the decisions you make should you be elevated to the Illinois Supreme Court?

JR: How is the decision I render, along with my colleagues, going to affect society? For example, in domestic violence court, usually the reason the case was in front of me was because there was an underlying issue. Instead of incarcerating that person, what I would look at was if it would be better if they went to anger management classes under supervision, or rehab for substance abuse, because at the end of the day if they are incarcerated, upon release they will be the same person or even worse. If we can address the problem early then I think that's something that will benefit society.

WCT: Your Facebook campaign page had a post about the importance of having a Latine voice on Illinois's highest court. Can you expand on that a little more?

JR: One of the examples I like to point out is when U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was elevated to that court and Justice Thurgood Marshall was still there, when cases involving race would come up, she would get his perspective and lived experience. I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood in a union family, and saw a lot of injustices growing up. This is one of the reasons that propelled me to want to become a lawyer was to help address those injustices. It is not just from the Latine perspective, but other immigrant communities as well. I think it is important to have someone on the Illinois Supreme Court with my lived experience.

WCT: I see that you attended the Equality Illinois gala this year. Why was that important for you to do?

JR: I attend every year. I think it is important to support the LGBTQ community in this way. There has been great advances, but more work still needs to be done. Like I mentioned with the implicit bias jury instructions, among the other issues that need to be addressed that affect the LGBTQ community. I have always attended the Pride Parade. I created the Diversity Scholarship Foundation back when it wasn't popular to talk about diversity and inclusion. We recognized many individuals from the LGBTQ community with awards including Judges Jill Rose Quinn, Mary Rowland and Cecilia Horan and retired Judge Tom Chiola to name a few. It was important for us to do this, and particularly for the college and law school students to see someone like them standing on stage getting this recognition and thinking that could be me some day.

WCT: Are there any endorsements you want to highlight?

JR: I am very proud of the fact that I am the people's candidate. Having the endorsement of the people means a lot to me.

WCT: What else would you like voters to know about you?

JR: I am very active on and off the bench. I believe in being a public servant in all aspects of my life. I am involved with a lot of organizations including the LAGBAC Foundation, because I think it is important to support each other. We all have the same concerns and issues and want opportunities to obtain our goals and so I think if we can help each other along the way that is the best thing we can do for one another. I have had the opportunity to marry a lot of gay couples and that gives me a lot of pleasure, to see a loving couple that want to be together. This is one of the best parts of my job.

See and .

NOTE: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

This article shared 6968 times since Fri Feb 16, 2024
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

Legislation to increase HIV testing, Linkage to Care Act passes Illinois House with bipartisan vote of 106
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD — Thursday night, House Bill 5417, the Connection to HIV Testing and Linkage to Care Act, or the HIV TLC Act, championed by State Representative Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) passed the Illinois House of Representatives with ...

Gay News

New Title IX rules protects LGBTQ+ a point
New Title IX guidelines finalized April 19 will protect the rights of LGBTQ+ students by federal law and further safeguards of victims of campus sexual assault, according to ABC News. But those protections don't extend to ...

Gay News

WORLD Nigeria arrest, Chilean murderer, trans ban, Olivier Awards, marriage items
Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission's (EFCC's) decision to arrest well-known transgender woman Idris Okuneye (also known as Bobrisky) over the practice of flaunting money has sparked questions among several ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Ohio law blocked, Trevor Project, Rev. Troy Perry, ICE suit, Elon Musk
In Ohio, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Michael Holbrook temporarily blocked a Republican-backed state law banning gender-affirming care (such as puberty blockers and hormones) for transgender minors from ...

Gay News

BOOKS Frank Bruni gets political in 'The Age of Grievance'
In The Age of Grievance, longtime New York Times columnist and best-selling author Frank Bruni analyzes the ways in which grievance has come to define our current culture and politics, on both the right and left. ...

Gay News

Hunter leads resolution declaring April 2024 as Minority Health Month
--From a press release - SPRINGFIELD — To raise awareness about the importance of cardiovascular health, particularly among minority communities, State Senator Mattie Hunter passed a resolution declaring April 2024 as Minority Health Month in ...

Gay News

Supreme Court allows Idaho ban on gender-affirming care for minors
The U.S. Supreme Court has granted a request by Republican Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador to lift a lower court's temporary injunction preventing the state from enforcing its felony ban on gender-affirming care for minors, The ...

Gay News

City Council passes Lesbian Visibility Week proclamation
Chicago alderwomen Maria Hadden (49th) and Jessie Fuentes (26th) introduced a resolution at Chicago's April 17 City Council meeting to declare April 22-28 as Lesbian Visibility Week in Chicago. This is part of a nationwide effort ...

Gay News

Morrison to run for Cook County clerk (UPDATED)
Openly gay Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison has decided to run for the Cook County clerk position that opened following Karen Yarbrough's death, according to Politico Illinois Playbook. Playbook added that Morrison also wants to run ...

Gay News

Appeals court overturns W. Va. trans sports ban
On April 16, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with teen trans runner Becky Pepper-Jackson and overturned a West Virginia law that banned transgender athletes from competing on girls' and women's sports teams in ...

Gay News

Fed appeals panel ruling helps trans athlete
A three-judge federal appeals court panel ruled Tuesday (April 16) that West Virginia's law barring transgender female students from participating on female student sports teams violates federal law. In a 2 to 1 decision, the panel ...

Gay News

Q FORCE launches 2024 election efforts in Chicago
More than 100 people attended the launch of 2024 election efforts by Q FORCE Midwest Action Group at Sidetrack April 12. Q FORCE is a Chicago-based, all-volunteer, grassroots movement organizing to recruit and activate "at least ...

Gay News

WORLD Ugandan law, Japan, Cass report, Tegan and Sara, Varadkar done
Ugandan LGBTQ+-rights activists asked the international community to mount more pressure on Uganda's government to repeal an anti-gay law that the country's Constitutional Court refused to nullify, PBS reported. Activist ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Trans woman killed, Tenn. law, S. Carolina coach, Evan Low, Idaho schools
Twenty-four-year-old Latina trans woman and makeup artist Meraxes Medina was fatally shot in Los Angeles, according to the website them, citing The Los Angeles Times. Authorities told the Times they found Medina's broken fingernail and a ...

Gay News

LPAC, Arizona LGBTQ officials denounce Arizona Supreme Court ruling on abortion
--From a press release - Washington, DC — Yesterday, in a decision that starkly undermines reproductive freedoms, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled to enforce a 160-year-old law that criminalizes abortion and penalizes healthcare providers who ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.