Judge since: 2012
Prior to being elected to the bench, Santiago spent 13 years at the Cook County Public Defender’s Office. In 2009, she was named as one of the Law Bulletin’s “Top 40 Illinois Attorneys Under 40 to Watch.” Santiago previously heard traffic cases and misdemeanor cases.
Bar Association ratings
This year: The CBA and the CCL rated Santiago as qualified, and the ISBA recommended her for retention.
Past: Santiago was rated positively by the CCL and ISBA in 2012. The CBA rated Santiago negatively, citing her lack of experience.
Notable: In 2016 Santiago received a formal sanction from the Illinois Courts Commission, which found she had violated the judicial canons by offering conflicting statements about where she lived. The commission censure is a rare act—Santiago is the only current Cook County Circuit judge to have been publicly disciplined by the courts commission in at least the last 20 years. The basis for her discipline: Santiago stated when she first ran for the 6th judicial subcircuit seat that she lived in her parents’ home, not in the house she owned. But as she sought a mortgage on her home, Santiago listed that she lived in the home she owned, which qualified her for a lower mortgage.