Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Retirement Celebration for Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald

At the November 3rd luncheon to honor recently retired Chief Justice
Thomas R. Fitzgerald are, from left, me, Justice Lloyd Karmeir, Justice Rita
Garman, Chief Justice Fitzgerald, Justice Mary Jane Theis, Justice Robert
Thomas, Mark Hassakis, President of the Illinois State Bar Association.
On November 3, 2010, over 500 lawyers, judges and public officials gathered for lunch in the International Ballroom of the Chicago Hilton and Towers to pay tribute to Illinois Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald upon his retirement from public office. The event, sponsored by several Bar Associations and co-hosted by the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and John Marshall Law School, was a moving celebration of Chief Justice Fitzgerald’s career of service to the people of the State of Illinois.

Four sitting Illinois Supreme Court Justices -- Justice Mary Jane Theis, Justice Rita B. Garman, Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier and Justice Robert R. Thomas -- appeared and spoke about their friendship with and admiration for Chief Justice Fitzgerald. In addition, Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride, unable to attend the luncheon, sent remarks honoring his friend and colleague.

The Justice and me.
The Justices described Chief Justice Fitzgerald as a wonderful mentor, friend, story-teller and “judge’s judge” who always asks the probing question that gets right to the heart of a case. They described how Chief Justice Fitzgerald worked to achieve compromise on the Court, and how he led in the development of the new Illinois Rules of Evidence. Several speakers mentioned also the critical leadership role that Chief Justice Fitzgerald played on the Circuit Court of Cook County, taking the helm of a troubled Traffic Court reeling from the disclosures of corruption ferreted out during the Operation Greylord investigation in the 1980s.

Chief Justice Fitzgerald spoke of his sadness in leaving the bench and the work that he has loved, and quoted from Lou Gherig who famously said, “I am the luckiest man in the world.” He also joked that he did not understand why everyone was being so nice to him, as he no longer has the authority to appoint judges.

A standing ovation greeted the introduction of the guest of
honor. Appaluding the Justice are Judge William J. Bauer,
U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, and Justice Mary
Jane Theis, Illinois Supreme Court.
The luncheon was a fitting tribute to Chief Justice Fitzgerald for his many years of public service. My thanks to ISBA President Mark Hassakis, who served as my co-emcee for the luncheon, to the CBA Scales of Justice and CBA musicians Frank Cargill and Steve Thomas for performing, and to the following Bar Associations for sponsoring this wonderful event: Advocates Society; Arab-American Bar Association of Illinois; Asian American Bar Association; Black Women Lawyers Association; Chinese American Bar Association; Cook County Bar Association; Decalogue Society of Lawyers; Filipino-American Bar Association; Hellenic Bar Association; Hispanic Lawyers Association of Illinois; Illinois Native American Bar Association; Indian American Bar Association; Justinian Society of Lawyers; Korean American Bar Association; Lesbian & Bay Bar Association of Chicago; Muslim Bar Association of Chicago; Pakistani American Bar Association; Puerto Rican Bar Association and Women’s Bar Association of Illinois.