Illinois’ first Chinese American judge and the first Asian American to serve on the state’s appellate court has died, reports the Chicago Trib.
Laura Liu, 49, died of complications of breast cancer and was immediately remembered as someone who loved to serve others.
“Judge Liu loved the law, she loved her family, and she loved serving others through ensuring justice for every resident of Illinois,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “As the first Asian American justice to serve on the Illinois Appellate Court, Judge Liu broke barriers and blazed new trails of opportunity.”
Liu is the daughter of foreign exchange students. Although she was born in Illinois, she grew up speaking very little English. She received her law degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1991 and became a Cook County Circuit Court judge in 2010 before her appointment to the Appellate Court in 2014. She is also past president of the Chinese American Bar Association.
She battled breast cancer for five years.
“She didn’t hide the fact that she was ill, but she never dwelled on it,” fellow Appellate Court Justice Joy Cunningham said. “She said, ‘I got up in the morning, and I’m doing my work.’ And she was always upbeat. That’s why (her passing) took so many people by surprise, because she was always upbeat to the end. She was just a generally wonderful person and a thoughtful jurist.”