Zion-Benton Times - Community News - Your Life

Jay Ukena to serve 2nd term as Chief Judge


A unanimous vote by Lake County Circuit Court judges selected Jay Ukena to serve a second term as chief judge. “I am humbled and honored to have the support and confidence of colleagues to serve as chief judge,” said Ukena. “They are dynamic judges, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve with each of them, along with the staff of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit.” Ukena first was elected as a local circuit judge in the November 2008 general election. He began as a judge in the circuit’s family division in February 2009, and was named presiding judge of the family division from January 2011 to June 2014.

Before taking the bench, Ukena worked as a private practice attorney for 29 years, served as general counsel for the North Shore Sanitary District and Waukegan Township and as a municipal prosecutor for Waukegan and Lake Zurich. Ukena is the first Democrat to be elected as chief judge in Lake County. After being selected for his first term, Ukena said there might have been a time when politics played a role in judge selections, but he does not believe that it does. Ukena said he was well into his career before he seriously considered working on the bench.

“I never thought about being a judge,” he said. “The more I saw, though, the more I saw it as being something to strive for.”


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