NIU Law Hosts 16th Annual Minority Alumni Reception

Judge Mark Lopez (’83) received the Excellence in Service and Leadership Award and is pictured with Hon. Vincent Cornelius (’89) and Interim Dean Mark Cordes (right).

The Northern Illinois University College of Law held its 16th Annual Minority Alumni Reception, hosted by the NIU College of Law Interim Dean Mark Cordes and alumnus Hon. Vincent Cornelius (’89) on February 19, 2019 at the Illinois State Bar Association’s office in Chicago. Current and prospective students, alumni, faculty, and judges from the Chicago area attended the reception, which included special presentations honoring alumni Hon. Mark Lopez (’83) and new judges – Hon. Sondra Denmark (’04), Hon. Linda Perez (’00), and Hon. Vincent Cornelius (’89).

The Honorable Vincent Cornelius (’89) presented Judge Mark Lopez (’83) with the Excellence in Service and Leadership Award for his outstanding career achievements and devotion to the public good. Judge Lopez has served as an Associate Judge for the Circuit Court of Cook County since 1999 and has been recognized on numerous occasions for his leadership, public service, and contributions to the legal profession.

In addition, three new alumni judges, who were recently added to the bench, were recognized.

Interim Dean Mark Cordes (right) recognized new alumni judges (from left): Hon. Vincent Cornelius (’89), Hon. Linda Perez (’00), and Hon. Sondra Denmark (’04).

Hon. Linda Perez (’00) was elected Cook County Circuit Judge and serves in the 6th subcircuit. Prior to her election, Judge Perez worked for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office for 17 years. She worked in the criminal and civil divisions including Child Protection, Juvenile Justice, Traffic/Misdemeanor, Domestic Violence, Preliminary Hearings, and Felony. She also worked in the Drug Court, Veteran’s Court, and Mental Health Court.

Hon. Sondra Denmark (’04) was appointed as a Cook County Circuit Judge in the Second Judicial Subcircuit. Prior to her appointment, she served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for 13 years, spending the last 10 years in the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office and three years in the Cook County State’s Attorney Office. She has also worked as a solo practitioner.

Hon. Vincent Cornelius (’89) was elected judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit Court of Will County. Prior to his election, Judge Cornelius had his own law practice with offices in Joliet and Wheaton. He is a past president of the Illinois State Bar Association and the Illinois Bar Foundation, past Chancellor of the Illinois Academy of Lawyers, a founding board member of the Black Bar Association of Will County, and a member of the DuPage County Bar Association, the Will County Bar Association, and the National College for DUI Defense. He has served on the Governor’s Commission on Criminal Law Reform and is the Vice Chair of the Northern Illinois University College of Law Board of Visitors.

Judge Cornelius has co-hosted the Minority Reception since its inception and has watched it continue to grow each year.

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