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First African-American Illinois Supreme Court Justice Retiring

The first African-American justice to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court is retiring.

The court announced Thursday that Justice Charles E. Freeman will retire effective June 14. The 84-year-old from Chicago served more than 27 years, including roughly three years as chief justice.

Freeman was an assistant Illinois attorney general before he became a Cook County Circuit Court judge in 1976. He was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1990.

Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier says Freeman “inspired generations of attorneys of color to pursue careers in public service and positions of leadership.” He says it’s “impossible to overstate Justice Freeman’s impact on Illinois law.”

The court, which has constitutional authority to fill interim vacancies, named Appellate Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. to fill the seat through Dec. 7, 2020.

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