Justice David Cerda: First Latino Judge in Illinois

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, we are revisiting an interview with Justice David Cerda (Ret.), the first Latino judge in Illinois. This interview was originally published in February 2019.

The Commission’s Profiles in Professionalism interviews share the perspectives and wisdom of distinguished members of the legal community. In this interview, Illinois Appellate Court Justice David Cerda (Ret.) shares the unique trajectory of his groundbreaking legal career.

Born in Chicago to immigrants who fled the Mexican Revolution, Justice Cerda was the first person in his family to graduate from high school. After a brief stint in the U.S. Navy at the end of World War II, three Navy buddies convinced Justice Cerda to attend college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

He went on to become one of two Latino students in his J.D. class at DePaul University College of Law, the first Latino judge in Illinois, and the first Latino to be named to the Illinois Appellate Court.

Justice David Cerda discusses the Mexican immigrant experience in Chicago, the importance of diversity on the bench, and why fostering a mentoring culture is key to success. He retired from the judiciary in December 2002.

For more videos of outstanding role models who have shaped our legal system, click here.

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