‘It’s our time’

By: Ashmar Mandou

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - BusinessDespite running on vapors, Judge Sandra Ramos is knocking on every day, visiting every church with great fervor to generate support for her run to become the first Latina on the Appellate Circuit Court. “For far too long I heard, ‘this isn’t your time,’ or ‘wait in line’ and I’m not going to subscribe to those beliefs anymore,” said Judge Ramos. “We as Latinas have to make our own time, we have to carve our own space, we have to push to see ourselves, our community represented.” Growing up as a first-generation Hispanic in Chicago, one of six children with parents who barely spoke English, was no easy task.  Ramos’s parents instilled in each of them the desire, discipline and structure to attain a college education and pursue the American dream. Ramos graduated from DePaul University where she also went to gain her law degree.

“While practicing law, it was jarring to me that there still was almost no Hispanic judiciary representation in our court system, despite Cook County being one of the largest Latino communities in the United States.  It was then I realized that in order to see this future I kept waiting for, I would have to become part of the solution and fight for the representation our courts so desperately needed,” said Judge Ramos. It would take 17 years and five election attempts to achieve that dream. In 2010 she was finally elected into the Circuit Court. Now almost ten years later, Hispanics make up 25.5 percent of the population of Cook County, yet still hold only one of 24 (4 percent) Appellate Court seats. It is for that very reason; Judge Ramos is running for the Appellate Circuit Court. “We need representation,” said Ramos. Ramos shares with Lawndale Bilingual News her core issues.


Diversity on the Bench is extremely important as it allows for a more dynamic dialogue in our upper court system. Right now there is only 1 Latino Justice in the Appellate Court, and far contrast from the 25 percent of Latinos living in Cook County.  And not just Latinos are being underrepresented, Asian Americans are completely absent from both the Appellate and Supreme Court.  In an age when Cook County is the face of diversity, its time our Judiciary reflected its constituency.     

Civil Rights

Many of our constituents now fear having family members deported or misplaced, while others fear losing the right to choose what happens to their bodies, or who they can marry.  Unfortunately, we live in a time when many of our basic civil liberties are being jeopardized.  It goes beyond gender, race, religion, or even political bias: these civil rights protect who we are as individuals, family members, neighbors and citizens of America.  When these liberties are jeopardized, as they are now, we need strong leaders in prominent roles who are not afraid to stand up and defend our constitutional freedom. 

Equal Access to justice

During my five year stay as Judge in Branch 48 in Englewood, I was reminded every day of the importance of equal access to justice in every aspect of our judicial system.   How any lack of due diligence could severely impact the often disenfranchised lives of any our citizens here in Cook County.  It truly made me want to work more ardently each and every day, knowing I was doing everything I could to fairly preside over each case before me.  Today, I still see that lack of equal access all across the county, and it continues to drive and inspire me while fighting for what I know is right. 

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