Judge Araceli R. De La Cruz was appointed as a Circuit Court Judge by the Illinois Supreme Court and sworn in on January 6, 2022.
Judge De La Cruz is a lifelong Chicago resident. Academic scholarships enabled her to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago where she studied English Literature and Political Science. While attending The John Marshall Law School she competed in Mock Trial, was on the Dean’s List and earned the Elmer Kissane award for her commitment to public service.
Judge De La Cruz’s parents were born in Puerto Rico and were public servants and union workers. They modeled demonstrated service and a deep love for community. It is why she was recently a longstanding executive board member for Casa Central, a large non-profit social service agency. Before her appointment to the bench, she also served as the Board Secretary for the 39th Ward Democratic Organization.
For over twenty years Judge De La Cruz developed her legal and professional skills. She takes great pride in having served crime victims, public transit riders, public consumers and public school children. Judge De La Cruz brings her depth and breadth of experiences as a trusted and ethical public servant with her onto the bench.
Judge De La Cruz began her legal career as an Assistant State’s Attorney, where she honed her litigation skills. She tried misdemeanor and felony jury trials, including over one hundred bench trials. Judge De La Cruz handled matters in the Traffic Division, Child Protection Unit, Narcotics, Felony Review, Felony Preliminary Hearings, and the Special Grand Jury where she indicted homicide and sexual assault cases. While in the Special Prosecution section of the Narcotics Unit she managed vertical prosecution of narcotics cases. She also specialized in child victim sexual assault cases.
While the Chief Safety and Security Officer at the Chicago Transit Authority, Judge De La Cruz ensured regulatory compliance with state and federal safety and security standards. As the Chief of General Prosecutions at the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations she managed prosecuting attorneys and ensured the interests of everyday Illinois public consumers were protected. In this capacity Judge De La Cruz also gained experience in working with pro se respondents.
Before her appointment to the bench, Judge De La Cruz served as the General Counsel and Chief Administrative Officer for Acero Schools. In this role she ensured compliance with the collective bargaining agreement between Acero Schools and the Chicago Teacher’s Union. Her role included managing the legal team, conducting internal investigations, handling Title IX matters and overseeing additional outside counsel attorneys. Judge De La Cruz also supported and promoted fair and restorative practices within Acero Schools.
Judge De La Cruz is an active member of the Chicago Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, the Hispanic Lawyer’s Association of Illinois and the Puerto Rican Bar Association.
Araceli’s husband was born in the Philippines and is an architect. They are the proud parents of two teenagers.