Thomas R. Fitzgerald (judge)

Last updated
Thomas R. Fitzgerald
Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court
In office
September 2008 October 2010
Succeeded by Mary Jane Theis
Member of the Supreme Court of Illinois
In office
Personal details
Born(1941-07-10)July 10, 1941
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
DiedNovember 1, 2015(2015-11-01) (aged 74)
La Grange, Illinois, U.S.
Alma mater Loyola University Chicago
The John Marshall Law School

Thomas R. Fitzgerald (July 10, 1941 – November 1, 2015) was a chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. He became the first Illinois chief justice to preside over the impeachment trial of a sitting governor when he presided over the impeachment trial of Governor Rod Blagojevich.

A number of controversies related to Rod Blagojevich, formerly the Governor of Illinois, were covered in the press during and after his administration. In addition to a reputation for secrecy that was noted by the Associated Press, Blagojevich was the subject of political, legal, and personal controversies similar to those of his predecessor, Republican Governor George Ryan. To the surprise of many, Blagojevich said in 2008 that he agreed with the idea of commuting Ryan's federal prison sentence.


Early life and career

Born in Chicago on July 10, 1941, [1] Fitzgerald graduated from Leo Catholic High School in 1959. [2] He attended Loyola University Chicago before enlisting in the United States Navy. [3] Following his tour of duty in the Navy, he graduated with honors from The John Marshall Law School, [4] where he was a founder of the school's current law review and served as its associate editor. [5]

Chicago City in Illinois, United States

Chicago, officially the City of Chicago, is the most populous city in Illinois and the third most populous city in the United States. With an estimated population of 2,716,450 (2017), it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States. Chicago is the county seat of Cook County, the second most populous county in the United States, and the principal city of the Chicago metropolitan area, which is often referred to as "Chicagoland." The Chicago metropolitan area, at nearly 10 million people, is the third-largest in the United States; the fourth largest in North America ; and the third largest metropolitan area in the world by land area.

Leo Catholic High School

Leo Catholic High School is a private all-male Roman Catholic high school in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, United States. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago and home to a predominantly African–American student body. The school is named in honor of Pope Leo XIII.

Loyola University Chicago university

Loyola University Chicago is a private Catholic research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1870 by the Jesuits, today Loyola is one of the largest Catholic universities in the United States. Loyola's professional schools have educated generations of local business and civic leaders, and distinguished programs in medicine, nursing, and health sciences are anchored by the nationally recognized Loyola University Medical Center.

The son of a circuit court judge, Fitzgerald began his own career in the law as a prosecutor in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. When first elected to the bench in 1976, he was the youngest Cook County judge. [6] He served as a trial judge in the Criminal Court from 1976 to 1987, when he was assigned Supervising Judge of Traffic Court. In 1989, he returned to the Criminal Division as Presiding judge. He was also appointed to serve as presiding judge of Illinois's first statewide Grand Jury. [7] He was elected to the Supreme Court of Illinois for the First District in 2000.

Law System of rules and guidelines, generally backed by governmental authority

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

Prosecutor supreme representative of the prosecution (of the state)

A prosecutor is a legal representative of the prosecution in countries with either the common law adversarial system, or the civil law inquisitorial system. The prosecution is the legal party responsible for presenting the case in a criminal trial against an individual accused of breaking the law. Typically, the prosecutor represents the government in the case brought against the accused person.

Cook County, Illinois County in Illinois, United States

Cook County is a county in the U.S. state of Illinois. It is the second-most populous county in the United States after Los Angeles County, California. As of 2017, the population was 5,211,263. Its county seat is Chicago, the largest city in Illinois and the third-most populous city in the United States. More than 40% of all residents of Illinois live in Cook County.

As a law professor, Fitzgerald taught at The John Marshall Law School and Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he was assistant coordinator of the trial advocacy program from 1986 to 1996. He also has taught at the Einstein Institute for Science, Health and the Courts. [8]

John Marshall Law School (Chicago) in Chicago

The John Marshall Law School is a law school in Chicago, Illinois, that was founded in 1899 and accredited by the American Bar Association in 1951. The school was named for the influential nineteenth-century U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall.

Chicago-Kent College of Law is a law school affiliated with the Illinois Institute of Technology. It is the second oldest law school in the state of Illinois. It is ranked 72nd among U.S. law schools, and its trial advocacy program is ranked in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report as the fourth best program in the U.S. According to Chicago-Kent's 2014 American Bar Association-required disclosures, 85% of the 2014 class secured a position six months after graduation. Of these 248 employed graduates, 172 were in positions requiring passage of the bar exam.

Fitzgerald served as president of the Illinois Judges' Association, chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Special Committee on Capital Cases, member of the Governor's Task Force on Crime and Corrections, chairman of several committees of the Illinois Judicial Conference, member of the Chicago Bar Association's Board of Managers and past chairman of the Chicago Bar Association's committees on constitutional law and long-range planning.

Chicago Bar Association

Founded in 1874, the Chicago Bar Association (CBA) is a voluntary bar association with over 20,000 members. Like other bar associations, it concerns itself with professional ethics, networking among members, and continuing legal education. It is located adjacent to the John Marshall Law School in the Chicago Loop.

Chief Justice

He was elected Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court on May 19, 2008, with his term effective September 6, 2008. [9]

On January 26, 2009, he became the first Illinois chief justice to preside over the impeachment trial of a sitting governor, as he opened proceedings in the impeachment trial of Governor Rod Blagojevich. [10] [11]

Retirement and death

Fitzgerald retired in October, 2010. [12] He announced his retirement on September 13, 2010, citing a recent diagnosis of Parkinson's Disease. [13] Fitzgerald died on November 1, 2015 at his home from the disease at the age of 74. [14]

Awards and honors

Fitzgerald has been awarded the Outstanding Judicial Performance Award by the Chicago Crime Commission and honored as Celtic Man of the Year by the Celtic Legal Society. [15] He received the Herman Kogan Media Award for Excellence in Broadcast Journalism. The Lawyers' Assistance Program honored him in 2000 with the Hon. John Powers Crowley Award. He is the 2001 recipient of the John Marshall Law School Freedom Award. In 2003, Fitzgerald was awarded the Joel Flaum Award by the Chicago Inn of Court and the Chicago-Kent College of Law Professional Achievement Award. In 2005, Fitzgerald was named Catholic Lawyer of the Year by the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago. [16] In 2008, he was awarded the John Paul Stevens Award by the Chicago Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Foundation. [17] He is a member of the Leo High School Hall of Fame.

Fitzgerald was named Chicago Lawyer's 2010 Person of the Year. [18]

Related Research Articles

Impeachment Formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity

Impeachment is the process by which a legislative body levels charges against a government official. It does not mean removal from office; it is only a statement of charges, akin to an indictment in criminal law. Once an individual is impeached, he or she must then face the possibility of conviction by a legislative vote, which judgment entails removal from office.

New Hampshire Supreme Court the highest court in the U.S. state of New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Supreme Court is the supreme court of the U. S. state of New Hampshire and sole appellate court of the state. The Supreme Court is seated in the state capital, Concord. The Court is composed of a Chief Justice and four Associate Justices appointed by the Governor and Executive Council to serve during "good behavior" until retirement or the age of seventy. The senior member of the Court is able to specially assign lower-court judges, as well as retired justices, to fill vacancies on the Court.

Supreme Court of Georgia (U.S. state) American court

The Supreme Court of Georgia is the highest judicial authority of the U.S. state of Georgia. The court was established in 1845 as a three-member panel. Since 1896, the justices have been elected by the people of the state. The justices are currently elected in statewide non-partisan elections for six-year terms, with any vacancies filled through an appointment by the Governor.

Robert Randall Thomas is a justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois and a former professional football player. He has served as the Illinois Supreme Court Justice for the Second District since December 4, 2000, and as Chief Justice from September 6, 2005 to September 5, 2008. His political affiliation is Republican.

Richmond Mumford Pearson (1805–1878) was an American jurist who served as Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1858 to 1878. He was the father of Congressman Richmond Pearson and the father-in-law of North Carolina Governor Daniel Gould Fowle.

Lloyd A. Karmeier is an American judge. He was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court from the Fifth District in 2004 and became its chief justice in 2016.

Margaret Lee Workman is a Justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. She was impeached by the West Virginia House of Delegates on August 13, 2018. She awaits trial by the West Virginia Senate.

Albert Ernest Jenner Jr. was an American lawyer and one of the name partners at the law firm of Jenner & Block. He served as assistant counsel to the Warren Commission; as a member of the U.S. National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence; and as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate Scandal and the impeachment process against Richard Nixon.

Ann Claire Williams American judge

Ann Claire Williams is a retired United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and a former United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She is currently Of Counsel at Jones Day where she leads the law firm's efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa, and to their leading trial and appellate practices.

Theophilus W. Smith American judge

Theophilus Washington Smith was an Illinois Supreme Court Justice from 1825 until his resignation on December 26, 1842. He holds the distinction of being the subject of Illinois's first impeachment trial, held in 1833.

Illinois State Bar Association

The Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) is among largest voluntary state bar associations in the country. Approximately 28,000 lawyers are members of the ISBA. Unlike some state bar associations, in which membership is mandatory, ISBA membership is not required of lawyers licensed to practice in Illinois and ISBA membership is completely voluntary. The ISBA is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois. It also has an office in Chicago, Illinois.

Mary Isabel Yu is an Associate Justice of the Washington Supreme Court and former judge of the King County Superior Court. She is the state's first openly gay Justice, the first Asian American Justice, the first Latina Justice, she is also the 6th woman currently serving and the 11th woman ever to serve on Washington state's Supreme Court.

Mary Jane Theis American justice

Mary Jane Theis is an Illinois Supreme Court Justice for the First Judicial District in Cook County, Illinois.

Carrington T. Marshall American judge

Carrington Tanner Marshall was a lawyer from Zanesville, Ohio, United States who served for twelve years as Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, and was later a judge at the Nuremberg Trials.

Bernard Judge is an American journalist who has served in management positions at the City News Bureau of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin. He is a lifelong Chicagoan, married to Kimbeth Wehrli Judge and father to three grown children, Kelly, Bernard, and Jessica, and five grandchildren, Daniel Goldberg, Isabella Goldberg, Henry Schott, Ava Schott, and Declan Judge.

The Judiciary of Illinois is the unified court system of Illinois responsible for applying the Constitution and law of Illinois. It consists of the Supreme Court, Appellate Court, and circuit courts. The Supreme Court oversees the administration of the court system.

Carole Kamin Bellows is the former president of the Illinois Bar Association. Elected in 1977, Bellows was the first woman to serve as the president of a State Bar association. Bellows later served as a Circuit Court judge in Cook County, Illinois from 1986 to 2018.

Benjamin K. Miller was a former judge in Illinois. He was a member of the Illinois Supreme Court from 1984 to 2001. He served as Chief Justice from 1991 to 1994.


  1. "Leo Men in the News". Leo High School. Archived from the original on December 27, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  2. "Chicago Lawyer's 2010 Person of the Year". Chicago Lawyer. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  3. "Board of Trustees". The John Marshall Law School. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  4. "Fitzgerald to assume role as Chief Justice Sept. 8". Madison Record. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  7. "Fitzgerald to assume role as Chief Justice Sept. 8". Madison Record. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  9. "A supreme justiceSecretary". Chicago Tribune News. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  10. "Justice Lauds Ill. Senate Impeachment Role". Elmhurst College. Archived from the original on December 28, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  11. "Mary Jane Theis, Supreme Court JusticeFirst District". Illinois Courts. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  12. Long, Ray (September 13, 2010). "Illinois Supreme Court chief justice to retire". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-09-14.
  14. "Fitzgerald will be next chief justice". Illinois State Bard Association. Archived from the original on December 28, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  15. "Fitzgerald will be next chief justice". Illinois State Bard Association. Archived from the original on December 28, 2013. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  16. "Recipients of the Justice John Paul Stevens Award". The Chicago Bar Foundation. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  17. "Chicago Lawyer's 2010 Person of the Year". Chicago Lawyer. Retrieved December 26, 2013.