Rena Marie Van Tine became the first female Indian American judge in the nation on June 12, 2001 when she was appointed Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. On February 19, 2021 she became the first female Indian American Judge to be appointed to a countywide vacancy in Cook County. Since February 2017, she has been assigned to the Law Division, Jury Trial Assignment call at the Richard J. Daley Center. She was previously assigned to Juvenile Court located in Chicago, Illinois.
Prior to her appointment to the bench, Judge Van Tine served as Special Counsel to Illinois State Comptroller Daniel W. Hynes. Before joining the Comptroller’s Office, Judge Van Tine was a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney for 12 years. In this capacity she wrote numerous appellate briefs and argued several cases in the Appellate Court. She has also tried hundreds of cases. As a lawyer, she tried many jury trials in criminal and civil litigation.
She is a board member of the Chinese Mutual Aid Association. She has also appeared as a panelist on several cable programs on behalf of the Illinois Judges Association for topics such as running ethical judicial campaigns, women and the law, and what to expect in child protection court. As a lawyer, she gave several television and radio interviews regarding hate crimes. Judge Van Tine makes numerous appearances as a guest speaker, moderator and lecturer at several law schools, bar association programs and symposiums for the purpose of educating law students, attorneys, judges and community members about various aspects of the law and Asian American issues. She wrote a book chapter in the American Bar Association’s publication of “Dear Sisters, Dear Daughters: Words of wisdom from multicultural women attorneys who have been there and done that.”
Before becoming a judge, Rena was the Chair of State’s Attorney Richard A. Devine’s Asian American Advisory Council. She was also Joint Treasurer of the Indo-American Democratic Organization and a board member of the Asian American Democratic Organization. Judge Van Tine was an adjunct professor for Trial Advocacy at the Chicago-Kent College of Law.
Judge Van Tine earned her law degree at New York Law School and her undergraduate degree from Oakland University. She has completed several graduate courses at Michigan State University focusing on inter-cultural communication.
Rena has been found Highly Qualified by the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois. The Chicago Council of Lawyers found her Well Qualified and she was found Highly Recommended by the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Illinois, the Decalogue Society of Lawyers and the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago. All other bar associations found her qualified or recommended.
She and her husband reside in Park Ridge and have one grown daughter.