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Supreme Court Justice Bob Thomas to retire and join law firm that represented him in defamation case

Monday, Feb 10, 2020

* Press release

Justice Robert R. Thomas has announced his retirement from the Illinois Supreme Court effective Feb. 29, 2020. Justice Thomas, 67, became the first Chief Justice from DuPage County when he was elected to that post from 2005-2008. One of the major accomplishments during Justice Thomas’ tenure as Chief was the establishment of the Supreme Court Commission on Professionalism, an outgrowth of the Special Supreme Court Committee on Civility, which was formed in 2001. […]

Justice Thomas will join the Power Rogers law firm where he will practice with his son, Jonathan. Justice Thomas was represented by firm co-founder Joe Power in a successful 2006 defamation case against the Kane County Chronicle. […]

The Supreme Court has constitutional authority to fill interim judicial vacancies and has appointed Appellate Justice Michael J. Burke to fill Justice Thomas’ seat effective March 1 through Dec. 5, 2022. Justice Burke has been a member of the Second District Appellate Court since 2008. DuPage County Circuit Judge Liam Brennan has been assigned to the Second District Appellate Court, effective March 2 through Dec. 5, 2022. […]

Following his graduation from Notre Dame, Justice Thomas played 12 seasons in the National Football League, 10 of them with the Chicago Bears. In the 1977 season, Justice Thomas kicked a 28-yard overtime field goal that sent the Bears to the playoffs for the first time in 14 years, and he remains the fourth leading scorer in Chicago Bears history.

* 2007

The Kane County Chronicle has agreed to apologize for publishing defamatory statements about Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Thomas and to pay a reduced damage award to settle a case playing out in state and federal courts.

In a joint statement given to the Tribune Thursday, Thomas affirmed the importance of a free press and equal treatment of all under a court system he heads — issues that the paper insisted were at stake.

The statement was attributed to Thomas and Tom Shaw, the Chronicle’s president and chief executive officer, and included the name of former columnist Bill Page. His allegations in 2003 of high court politicking by Thomas were found by a jury to be false and defamatory.

Page, in a phone interview from Florida where he now lives, said he would not have agreed to a settlement and stands by his work.

“I will never back down from what I wrote,” Page said. “It was based on what I had from confidential sources.”

Attorneys for both sides declined to disclose the settlement sum, but Page said the paper agreed to pay $3 million in order to halt court battles that could drag on for years and cost millions.

…Adding… Justice Thomas was up for retention this year, but his district has shifted toward the Democratic Party in past years, so this may have been the smart move. The timing of his announcement means Thomas’ successor will not have to run until 2022 and will face actual opponents.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments »
  1. - Capitol Text - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 10:58 am:

    Hello Justice Burke, I’m Justice Burke.


  2. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 11:00 am:

    If I am reading this right, since he is retiring less than 3 weeks before the primary, the appointed justice gets an additional 2 years. If he had retired by mid-January they could have filled the spot this year.


  3. - HL Mencken - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 11:04 am:

    The ultimate irony of Illinois judicial politics is that while we talk about electing judges we always allow the judiciary to maneuver vacancies so that appointments and not elections are the way most judges begin their terms in office.


  4. - Capitol Text - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 11:06 am:

    If Justice Thomas had announced his retirement in November, then candidates could have filed for the 2020 election.

    It’s the announcement date that matters not the actual date. Justice Karmeier announced his retirement in November 2019 effective December 2020, so his seat is on the 2020 ballot with no one being appointed as a placeholder.


  5. - Headliners - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 11:40 am:

    That means only 3 Supreme Court seats will be on the ballot in November, rather than 4 which is a majority of the court.
    1st - Freeman vacancy
    3rd - Kilbride retention
    5th - Karmeier vacancy


  6. - Rich Hill - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 12:23 pm:

    The Chicago Bears circa 1980 employed future Illinois Supreme Court Justice Bob Thomas and future Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page. I don’t believe any other professional sports team in American history can claim two state supreme court justices.


  7. - Paddyrollingstone - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 12:59 pm:

    Rich - nice! Also, both are ND grads. Go Irish


  8. - Lucky Pierre - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 1:21 pm:

    You missed that retirement announcement wide left Justice Thomas


  9. - SouthSide Markie - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 1:38 pm:

    For those of us of a certain age, Justice Thomas is best known for kicking the winning field goad for ND’s 1973 Sugar Bowl victory over Bama. It led to ND winning the national championship that year.


  10. - Donnie Elgin - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 1:40 pm:

    Good move on Thomas’s part. With two FOID lawsuits on the docket smart to keep that 2nd district seat with the GOP.


  11. - Tired Teacher - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 2:14 pm:

    I will never forget his questions to the state as they tried to defend the unconditional pension bill. He was tough and fair. Thank you Justice Thomas


  12. - thechampaignlife - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 2:28 pm:

    ===Hello Justice Burke, I’m Justice Burke.===

    https://i.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/original/000/023/397/C-658VsXoAo3ovC.jpg


  13. - bogey golfer - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 3:19 pm:

    Back in the 80’s I served on a jury where he was the presiding judge. Numerous side bars, but he was patient throughout the trial. Wish him well in the private side.


  14. - Nameless - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 3:40 pm:

    - Rich Hill -

    Alan Page was a Minnesota Viking a lot longer than a Chicago Bear.


  15. - Scott Cross for President - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 4:12 pm:

    Farewell, Justice Thomas.

    Welcome, Justice Burke, and get ready for 2022.

    Because there is another Second District Appellate Justice who may run for the Supreme Court.

    Current Appellate Justice, former DuPage Co States Attorney and all-around Lisa Madigan fan (/s) - Joe Birkett


  16. - West Side the Best Side - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 4:24 pm:

    And what other state supreme court justice played for the Vikings? The point was 2 played for the Bears, no matter what length of time.


  17. - DuPage Saint - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 5:31 pm:

    Ann Jorgensen also wants job. So maybe not two Burke’s but two Anne’s. Bob Thomas always ran against the establishment at least in begging. Pate never had luck with judges


  18. - Not So Innocent Bystander - Monday, Feb 10, 20 @ 5:56 pm:

    Watch for at least one well-funded Dem from another county in the Second District to jump in the race.


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