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The Honorable Charles Freeman

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Information about The Honorable Charles Freeman

Profile image of The Honorable Charles Freeman

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
State Supreme Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Flounder
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Acapulco, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
12/12/1933
Birth Location:
Richmond, Virginia

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
State Supreme Court Judge

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Flounder
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Acapulco, Mexico
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
12/12/1933
Birth Location:
Richmond
See how The Honorable Charles Freeman is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles E. Freeman strove to make the state judicial system accountable and accessible to its citizens. Freeman, whose surname was probably adopted when Quakers freed his father's family before the Civil War, was born in Virginia in 1933. Freeman received his B.A. degree from Virginia Union University, and his J.D. degree from John Marshall Law School. In 1997; from there, he went on to become the first African American to be elected chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.

Governor Otto Kerner appointed Freeman arbitrator of the Illinois Industrial Commission in 1965; in this position, he heard and wrote decisions on more than 2,000 work-related injury cases. Eight years later, Governor Dan Walker appointed Freeman to the Illinois Commerce Commission, where he monitored businesses to ensure they maintained proper conduct and safe practices. Having practiced law from 1962 to 1977, Freeman was elected to the Circuit Court of Cook County. In 1982, Freeman swore in Harold Washington, a personal friend, as the first African American mayor of Chicago; he inducted Washington for a second term in 1987.

Freeman became the first African American elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1990, and in 1997 he was elected chief justice. Fulfilling his pledge to polish the Court's administrative projects for the next century, Freeman took the questionable marriage fund to task; stressed the need for mentoring programs and high standards for public servants; and tackled prosecutorial misconduct. Freeman elucidated the court's responsibilities and capabilities in a 1996 article in the Chicago Defender.

On November 5, 2002, Freeman became the Illinois Supreme Court's senior member when he was retained for another ten-year term. Freeman received dozens of prestigious awards for his professional and volunteer work. Freeman and his wife, Marylee, raised a son, Kevin, who went on to become a partner in the firm Gardner Carton & Douglas.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Charles Freeman interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman's favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Charles Freeman details his family's history
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Charles Freeman remembers his father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Charles Freeman describes his relationship with his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Charles Freeman remembers his childhood in Richmond, Virginia
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Charles Freeman recalls his father's investment in his education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Charles Freeman shares memories of his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Charles Freeman describes his personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Charles Freeman describes his education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Charles Freeman remembers his high school years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Charles Freeman relates the influence of two role models
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Charles Freeman discovers his commitment to the law profession
  • Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Charles Freeman describes his family structure
  • Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Charles Freeman discusses law school and age
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Charles Freeman discusses his first marriage
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman describes establishing his law practice
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Charles Freeman recalls his years in private practice
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Charles Freeman remembers Harold Washington's reluctant law career
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Charles Freeman details Harold Washington's mayoral ambitions
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Charles Freeman recalls Harold Washington's health issues
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Charles Freeman details his relationship with his wife
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Charles Freeman explains his new role as father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Charles Freeman discusses winning a seat on the Illinois Supreme Court
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Charles Freeman discusses his reception at the Illinois Supreme Court
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman discusses a day in the life of a Supreme Court Justice
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Charles Freeman describes the appellate process
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Charles Freeman reflects on changes in Illinois law during his tenure
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Charles Freeman calls for changes in standards for legal conduct
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Charles Freeman recalls memorable cases during his years as a trial attorney
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman describes the process of coming to a judicial decision
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Charles Freeman evaluates the effect of recent federal legislation on state law
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Charles Freeman expounds upon today's legal environment
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Charles Freeman discusses diversity in the courts
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Charles Freeman reveals up-and-coming justices in Illinois
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Charles Freeman recalls the sights, smells and sounds of his childhood
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Charles Freeman considers how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Photo - Charles Freeman in the Art Fellows Youth Band, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1940
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Photo - Charles Freeman's family members
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Photo - Charles Freeman's childhood home in Richmond, Virginia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Photo - Charles Freeman with his father and brother, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1943
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Photo - Charles Freeman with his mother, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1934
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Photo - Charles Freeman as an infant, Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1934
  • Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Photo - Charles Freeman with his brother, ca. 1940
  • Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Photo - Charles Freeman in front of his home in Richmond, Virginia, ca. 1940s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Photo - Charles Freeman's mother in her youth
  • Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Photo - Charles Freeman's mother vacationing at Buckroe Beach, Hampton, Virginia
  • Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Photo - Charles Freeman's father vacationing at Buckroe Beach, Hampton, Virginia