James Murphy-Aguilú: Accomplishment is a group effort


According to the White House, approximately 40 Hispanic, Latino men and women have been confirmed as federal judges under President Joe Biden.

Roughly 8 percent of federal judges in 2022 were Hispanic-Latino, a slight increase from 6.5 percent in 2020, according to the American Bar Association. Latinos are 19 percent of the U.S. population.

Last month, The Cook County Democratic Party passed over Appellate Judge Jesse Reyes in slating as they did four years ago. Slating is a political ritual preceding every election cycle that often indicates who will become a judge.

“Unacceptable,” argues The Illinois Latino Agenda, a coalition of nonprofit leaders from Chicago’s largest Latino-serving organizations, about a Latino candidate not being chosen.

They say, “We cannot accept a lack of support for a Latino candidate for the Illinois Supreme Court, given the large and increasing pool of qualified and outstanding Latinos in the Illinois legal field.”

One candidate that the Cook County Democratic Party did endorse in another 2024 primary election is Judge James Murphy-Aguilú, Circuit Court, Cook County, Illinois.

Judge James Murphy-Aguilú was a guest on the program “3 Questions With…” hosted by Hugo Balta, publisher of IL Latino News.

Murphy-Aguilu was appointed to fill the 10th Subcircuit vacancy created by the retirement of the Honorable Gregory Wojkowski. Effective July 7, 2023, the appointment will conclude on December 2, 2024, following the November 2024 general election.

“Right now, I am sitting in Traffic because that’s where all the judges start,” he said. “What I like about it is the goal ultimately of all the players of the court system is to have people who are lawfully driving and driving safely on the road.”

In an opinion article on the lack of representation in the judiciary, the Illinois Latino Agenda (ILA) argued that the Latino population in Illinois is at an all-time high, 18% of the state’s population and 26% of Cook County’s. However, despite this growth, ILA contends Latinos are and have always been unrepresented on the Illinois Supreme Court. 

Judge Murphy-Aguilu shared his thoughts on the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the judicial branch. “I remember reading a statistic that eight out of 10 victims of crimes are of the same national origin, or race, ethnicity as the person who commits the crime ,” he said. “So, if we are talking about a criminal system that’s populated with Black and Brown people, then we’re also talking about victims that are Black and Brown. You need to have representation in all aspects of that judicial system. You need to have prosecutors who are Latino. You need to have judges that are Latino. You also need to have administrators in these areas that are also Latino…so they can bring that perspective.”

Originally from Wisconsin, Murphy-Aguilu talked about his passion for ice hockey. “You grew up in Wisconsin…you’re going to encounter ice hockey,” he explained. “I fell in love with the sport.” Judge Murphy-Aguilu sits on the board of the Puerto Rico Ice Hockey Association (PRIHA).

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Judge James Murphy-Aguilú on the ice.

“3 Questions With…” is co-produced by the Latino News Network (LNN), an independent multimedia digital news outlet with local newsrooms nationwide, including IL Latino News and CAN TV, Chicago’s hub for community-centric news, hyperlocal stories, and educational resources.

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