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Rena Van Tine

2014 Duc Huang Founder's Award for Immigrant Success

Rena Marie Van Tine became the first female Indian American judge in the nation to serve on a state court on June 12, 2001 when she was appointed Associate Judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County. She became the first female Indian American Judge in Cook County when the Illinois Supreme Court appointed her to a countywide vacancy in February 2021. She is currently assigned to the Law Division, Law Jury Trial Assignment call at the Richard M. Daley Center since February 2017. 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. She served the people of the State of Illinois in the Criminal Division prosecuting violent offenders as well as in the Civil Division where she focused primarily on defending medical malpractice cases against Cook County Hospital. As a lawyer, she tried many jury trials in criminal and civil litigation.

Judge Van Tine has presided at numerous local and national moot court competitions. She has judged student trial advocacy trials at various law schools. She has also served as adjunct faculty and instructor at the February 2020 Judicial Education Conference for all state court judges in Illinois. 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.” She has also written several Law Division bench book chapters.

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. Rena was a Delegate to the Democratic National Convention held in August 2000. Judge Van Tine was an adjunct professor for Trial Advocacy at the Chicago-Kent College of Law. Rena was Chair of WILPOWER, the WBAI's then political action committee. Judge Van Tine was a founding member of the Chicago chapter of the Indian-American Bar Association (renamed the South Asian American Bar Association of Chicago in 2016) and served on it first board of directors.

​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.

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