Thomas R. Fitzgerald was born on July 10, 1941, and died on November 1, 2015.
He 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.
Born in Chicago on July 10, 1941, Thomas graduated from Leo Catholic High School in 1959.
Thomas attended Loyola University Chicago before enlisting in the United States Navy.
Following his tour of duty in the Navy, he graduated with honours from The John Marshall Law School, where he was a founder of the school’s current law review and served as its associate editor.
The son of a circuit court judge, Thomas 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.
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.
Thomas was also appointed to serve as presiding judge of Illinois’s first statewide Grand Jury. He was elected to the Supreme Court of Illinois for the First District in 2000.
As a law professor, Thomas 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.
Thomas 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.
Thomas retired in October, 2010. He announced his retirement on September 13, 2010, citing a recent diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease.
Thomas passed away at age 74 on November 1, 2015 at his home from the disease.