Another Kane first: Latina attorney selected by peers as new judge
Sandra T. Parga took the official oath in early October after her peers selected her as Kane County's newest associate judge -- and first Latina on the bench in the 16th Judicial Circuit's history -- and has been all business managing the caseload at the Aurora Branch Court.
Wednesday afternoon was a chance to reflect and rejoice during a celebratory swearing in ceremony before family, friends and colleagues who lauded her for committed service and hard work.
"I am truly honored," Parga, 47, said after taking the oath from Judge John Barsanti. "I'm humbled by the confidence you have placed in me; you have entrusted me with a great responsibility."
Parga, whose resume includes 18 years in private practice, several years as a Kane County assistant public defender and decades of community service, is the most recent "first" of Kane judges in recent years.
F. Keith Brown was the circuit's first black chief judge, followed by Judith Brawka, the first woman to serve as chief judge. Voters elected John Dalton as the first openly gay judge in the county, and Rene Cruz was appointed the first Hispanic judge in Kane County.
Parga acknowledged that some people who come into her courtroom may only see her as a woman, or as Hispanic. But at the end of the day, she wants people to see her as someone works hard, did her job well and ultimately, just.
"She's done a wonderful job right out of the gates and we are thrilled to have her on the bench with us," said Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles.
Barsanti noted Parga's tireless work ethic, unflappable demeanor in handling difficult situations and penchant for being involved and giving back, as evidenced by her earning the 2013 Pro Bono Award of the Year from the Kane County Bar Association.
"If you look at Sandra's background, she's been committed in every phase of her career, every phase of her life," Barsanti said. "She's always been part of the process. Just showing up, just being there has never been enough for Sandra."
Parga grew up in the DuPage suburbs and Chicago and her parents raised her to only speak Spanish until she reached kindergarten.
She learned English, graduated from DePaul University in 1991 after just three years and earned a scholarship to Cornell Law School, where she also served as secretary for the Latin American Law Student Association.
Parga's husband, Aurora defense attorney David Camic, said she is very smart, patient, and genuinely caring for people and her clients. Camic noted that up until she was appointed associate judge, she was still going to volunteering monthly at the Prairie State Legal Services to help people in divorce and family law cases.
"She's an incredibly modest and down-to-Earth," Camic said. "She's always given back."