David Garcia left home at 19 after growing up amidst gangs and violence in Chicago’s Humboldt Park. He married soon after and put himself through college at night while working full time.
But even though he was making good money as a manager with a food company, he held onto his childhood dream of one day becoming a lawyer.
“At 34 I decided if I don’t do it now, I’m never going to do it,” said Garcia, who as it turned out did do it, passing the bar at the age of 40. And now, 17 years later, he will be sworn in as a Will County judge. He will be the first Latino judge in the county’s history.
Along with Garcia, Joliet attorney Dave Carlson will take the bench Wednesday. Carlson, a Plainfield resident and father of two daughters, has been practicing law for 12 years. He also served as the chairman of the Will County Bar Association’s Criminal Law Committee and was a Will County assistant state’s attorney.
Carlson ran as the Republican candidate against incumbent Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow in November.
Garcia is a resident of Joliet’s Cathedral neighborhood. He opened his practice in Joliet 13 years ago. His wife of 37 years, Chris, works with him in his downtown office.
“I knew he was capable of good and great things,” Chris said of her husband. “I knew also he was a very honest person and very fair.”
Garcia, a graduate of the University Illinois at Chicago and IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, has maintained a diverse practice.
“I did mostly criminal, some family, a lot of traffic and a lot of real estate, and I dabbled in some of the other stuff,” said Garcia, who is gearing up for his new role in the courthouse.
“I just got to get up to speed,” he said. “You’re used to looking up at the bench, not from the bench.”
Garcia said that prior to being tabbed for a judge’s position he was working to start a Latino Bar Association. As the county’s first Latino judge, he said he will continue working to launch the association.
“I think this group of circuit judges was committed to showing the Latino community they were not forgotten,” he said.