CHICAGO – The Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois celebrated its 10th annual Judges Night at the National Hellenic Museum, June 9th, drawing a crowd of some 200 law professionals including Federal, Illinois Supreme, Appellate and Circuit Court judges of the Cook, Lake, DuPage, and Will counties.
Judge James A. Geocaris, former Presiding Judge of the Third Municipal District of Cook County, was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award after 30 years of service on the bench.
“I want to thank the Hellenic Bar Association for this honor…considering my age, I am happy to be receiving it in my lifetime,” he said, humoring the crowd with his life story, which includes both professional baseball and law.
Geocaris, who was born in 1930, is the second Greek-American judge elected to the court in Cook County, as well as the first, and to date, only Greek-American Presiding Judge of Cook County.
This year’s Socrates Dikastes Award was presented to Chief Judge Ruben Castillo, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The award is presented to a judge who exemplifies the principles pertinent to the bench as identified by the great Greek philosopher, Socrates: to hear courteously, to answer wisely, to consider soberly and to decide impartially.
“I feel very fortunate and I am lucky to follow in the footsteps of Judge Kocoras,” Ruben Castillo said.
During the evening, newly-elected HBA President, Vicki Pappas Karl was sworn in by Judge Charles P. Kocoras, who administered the oath of office to new officers and directors.
“As the daughter of Greek-American parents who worked hard to put me through school and taught me the values of hard work and education, I am proud to be a lawyer, and I am proud to be a Greek-American,” Pappas Karl said.
Outgoing HBA President Maria Vathis recalled the group’s achievements this year, including a total of $70,000 raised for scholarships. “I am grateful to this group for being part of my entire legal career since I was a law student scholarship recipient myself, and to the friends and mentors I was fortunate to gain,” Vathis said. “I look forward to my friend Vicki’s leadership this coming year, and as a female attorney, I am also excited to see so many women climbing up the leadership ladder of our organization.”
A decade-long tradition, Judges Night was spearheaded by Judge Anna Demacopoulos, before she rose to the bench, in an effort to showcase the capacity and capability of the Hellenic legal community.
Founded 68 years ago, the Hellenic Bar Association of Illinois is one of the largest and most successful ethnic bar associations, providing professional and career opportunities to lawyers and students, academic scholarships, outreach and philanthropy.