Judge Kristal Rivers
In 2019 Judge Kristal Rivers was awarded “Best Judge” by the Women’s Bar Attorney Conflict Panel for being the best all-around judge in the Juvenile Justice Division for judicial temperament, ability, fairness and competency. Throughout her judicial career she has received numerous awards and recognition for her work and civic involvement. Those awards include a Certificate of Appreciation for Visionary Women for championing peace and non-violence awarded by the Cook County Probation Department, a Certificate of Appreciation from Chief Judge Timothy Evans for diligence and dedication to the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Phenomenal Woman Award given by the Black Women’s Exposition honoring impeccable character, commitment to good deeds and the courage to achieve them. She has received Bar Association awards from the Illinois Judicial Counsel and the Cook County Bar Association including the Judicial Award, Presidential Award, Meritorious Award and Service Award.
On June 2, 2014, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Kristal Rivers to the office of Cook County Circuit Court Judge and on November 4, 2014 as the slated Democratic candidate, she was elected countywide to a six year term. Her initial assignments included presiding over traffic, small claims and eviction cases. In April 2015, Judge Rivers was assigned to the Juvenile Justice Division where she currently hears juvenile criminal matters. There she strives to insure that convicted minors are given a sentence that insures justice and will provide rehabilitation services allowing the minors to move on to have full and productive lives. Her rehabilitative sentences typically focus on the minor maturely accepting responsibility, education assistance, including tutoring, mental health counseling, drug treatment, parenting classes and pairing minors with suitable mentors.
Judge Rivers believes in enhancing the legal profession and serving humanity. She is a member of the Illinois Supreme Courts Committee on Equality. The Committee strives to help members of the judiciary recognize and defeat implicit bias. Judge Rivers is a Board Member the Illinois Judges Foundation which funds educational, civic, and scholarship projects to advance the rule of law, the legal profession, the administration of justice, and encourages judicial participation in these endeavors. She is also a board member of WINGS Program Inc. who’s mission is to provide housing, integrated services, education and advocacy to end domestic violence. Judge Rivers is a former board member and current member of the Cook County Bar Association. She is a past officer and member of the Illinois Judges Counsel and member of the Illinois Judges Association and the Chicago Bar Association. As an attorney she was a member of the American Bar Association, she was a liaison to the Judicial Conference, Lawyers Division for the ABA Taskforce on Human Trafficking and was a member of the Division’s Diversity Committee. Additionally, she has served on the Community Service Committee with the Black Women’s Bar Association. As a concerned citizen Judge Rivers was a board member for the Regional Fair Housing Center. The Regional Fair Housing Center was a non-profit 501(c) 3, HUD certified
Housing Counseling agency affiliate which in addition to extensive foreclosure mediation, offered home buyers workshops and assistance.
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Judge Rivers began practicing law in Texas in 1996 and was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1997. Her career included both criminal and civil litigation. As an attorney she had over 100 jury trials. From 2010 to 2014 Judge Rivers was an Assistant Illinois Attorney General assigned to the Sexually Violent Persons Bureau where she civilly committed sexually violent criminals to a secure facility that offers sex offender treatment. Prior to her position with the Attorney General, Judge Rivers was a private practitioner from 2001 until 2010. Her practice focused on real estate transactions and civil litigation. Before private practice, Judge Rivers was a prosecutor with the Dallas County Prosecutor’s office in Dallas, Texas where she was a Chief Prosecutor in misdemeanor courts and a Lead Felony Prosecutor in the felony Child Abuse Division.
Judge Rivers received her Juris Doctorate from Drake University, her Bachelor of Science from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and is a proud graduate of Chicago’s Kenwood Academy High School and an alumna of St. Felicitas elementary school.