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James D. Montgomery

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Information about James D. Montgomery

Profile image of James D. Montgomery

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Oxtails, Beans
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Italy
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/17/1932
Birth Location:
Louise, Mississippi

Profession

Category:
LawMakers
Occupation(s):
Civil Rights Lawyer

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Oxtails, Beans
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Italy
Favorite Quote:
None

Birthplace

Born:
2/17/1932
Birth Location:
Louise
See how James D. Montgomery is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

James Douglas Montgomery was born on February 17, 1932 in Louise, Mississippi to Mildred and James Montgomery. A skilled litigator, Montgomery is renowned for his handling of civil rights cases, as well as criminal, personal injury and medical malpractice cases.

In 1949, Montgomery graduated from Wendell Phillips High School in Chicago, Illinois. After receiving a B.A. from the University of Illinois in Champaign at Urbana, he enrolled in the university's College of Law and earned a J.D. in 1956. Montgomery went to work at the law firm of Rogers, Stayhorn and Harth, becoming a U.S. prosecutor in 1958. Going into private practice, he became a partner in different law firms and founded James D. Montgomery and Associates, Ltd. In the 1960s, his clients included the Blackstone Rangers and the Black Panthers. In 1983, Montgomery made history when he became the corporation counsel for the City of Chicago under Mayor Harold Washington. He was the first and only African American to hold this position. In 2000, Montgomery became a managing partner in the law firm of Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith and Montgomery and together with the well-known trial attorney Johnnie L. Cochran, they have successfully handled several high profile cases.

Montgomery has perfected his craft, lecturing throughout the country on trial and litigation techniques. He has spoken before for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, DePaul University, the Illinois Institute for Continuing Legal Education, Harvard Law School and the University of Chicago. Montgomery has been honored with the Edward H. Wright Award, the Earl Burrus Dickerson Award and the National Bar Association's Hall of Fame Award. In 1999, the Illinois Academy of Lawyers inducted Montgomery as a laureate in the academy, describing him as a man who personifies the "greatness of the legal profession." Montgomery is married to Pauline Montgomery and has six adult children: Linda, James, Michelle, Lisa, Jewel and Jilian. The three oldest are members of the Illinois Bar.

See how James D. Montgomery is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of James D. Montgomery's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery describes his parents' migration from Mississippi to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery describes his mother's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery describes his father's occupations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery describes his father's personality
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery talks about his brothers, Leo and Cleon Montgomery
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - James D. Montgomery describes his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - James D. Montgomery describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery describes the community where his family lived in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery describes his childhood in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery talks about the jobs he held as a youth
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery describes his parents reaction to his graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery describes his childhood personality
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery describes how competing with his brothers made him a better student
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery describes the teachers who influenced him
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery talks about his experiences with racism at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery describes his initial experience being a lawyer
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery talks about his childhood career aspirations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery talks about his experience at the University of Illinois at Navy Pier in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery describes his childhood experience at the Abraham Lincoln Center in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery narrates his photographs
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Slating of James D. Montgomery's interview
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery talks about the environment for black lawyers in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1950s
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery describes his hiring by the law firm of Rogers, Rogers, Strayhorn and Harth in 1956
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery describes his experience as a trial lawyer at Rogers, Rogers, Strayhorn and Harth
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery describes his position at the United States Attorney's Office
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery describes his experience at the United States Attorney's Office
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery describes the creation of Rogers, Rogers, Strayhorn and Harth
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery describes starting his own law practice
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery describes his cases as a solo practitioner
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery talks about his early organizational involvement
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery describes his experience in the Cook County Bar Association
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery describes the client base for black lawyers
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery describes the "Silent Six" black aldermen in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery describes civil rights activism in Chicago, Illinois in the late 1960s
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery talks about representing the Blackstone Rangers, pt. 1
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery talks about representing the Blackstone Rangers, pt. 2
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery talks about the assassination of Black Panther Fred Hampton
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery describes defending Black Panther HistoryMaker Bobby Rush, pt. 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery describes defending Black Panther HistoryMaker Bobby Rush, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Slating of James D. Montgomery's interview
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery describes his defense of the Blackstone Rangers for shooting Officer James Alfano, pt. 1
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery describes his defense of the Blackstone Rangers for shooting Officer James Alfano, pt. 2
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery describes the Black P. (Peace) Stone Nation in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery describes how the FBI pitted the Black P. (Peace) Stone Nation against the Black Panthers
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery talks about other legal groups that defended the Black Panthers and Blackstone Rangers in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery describes his involvement with the National Bar Association and the Cook County Bar Association
  • Tape: 8 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery describes his approach to practicing criminal law
  • Tape: 8 Story: 9 - James D. Montgomery describes his approach to practicing law
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery describes the cases he tried in the 1970s
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery describes a federal criminal case he tried in the late 1970s
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery describes two of the first personal injury cases he tried
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery describes his transition from practicing criminal law to civil law, pt. 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery describes his transition from practicing criminal law to civil law, pt. 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery describes dealing with legal partnerships
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery describes meeting Chicago Mayor Harold Washington for the first time
  • Tape: 9 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery talks about the election of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington in 1983
  • Tape: 9 Story: 9 - James D. Montgomery describes his appointment as Corporation Counsel of the City of Chicago in Mayor Harold Washington's administration
  • Tape: 9 Story: 10 - James D. Montgomery describes his experience as Corporation Counsel of the City of Chicago in Mayor Harold Washington's administration
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery talks about how he managed the City of Chicago, Illinois Department of Law, pt. 1
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery talks about how he managed the City of Chicago, Illinois Department of Law, pt. 2
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery describes recruiting young African American lawyers into the City of Chicago Department of Law
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery describes the legal fights he faced as corporation counsel under Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery describes his experiences with Chicago alderman Edward Vrdolyak
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery describes the political battles he faced as corporation counsel under Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery talks about the end of Chicago's City Council gridlock in 1985
  • Tape: 10 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery talks about implementing an affirmative action plan for city purchasing
  • Tape: 10 Story: 9 - James D. Montgomery describes the controversy surrounding the contract for the people mover at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 1
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery describes the controversy surrounding the contract for the people mover at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, pt. 2
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery reflects on the surprises of working in the government of the City of Chicago
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery talks about major political battles under Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 11 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery reflects upon his experience in the Corporation Counsel's Office
  • Tape: 11 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery describes the changes made in the City of Chicago Corporation Counsel's Office during his tenure
  • Tape: 11 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery describes his resignation from the Corporation Counsel's Office of the City of Chicago
  • Tape: 11 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery talks about the discovery of FBI mole Michael Raymond compromising Harold Washington's administration
  • Tape: 11 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery talks about his transition back into James D. Montgomery and Associates after serving as Corporation Counsel
  • Tape: 11 Story: 9 - James D. Montgomery talks about the Atlanta Connection under Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 11 Story: 10 - James D. Montgomery describes late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 12 Story: 1 - James D. Montgomery describes the legacy of Chicago Mayor Harold Washington
  • Tape: 12 Story: 2 - James D. Montgomery talks about the election of HistoryMaker Eugene Sawyer as Mayor of Chicago
  • Tape: 12 Story: 3 - James D. Montgomery describes starting the law firm of Cochran, Cherry, Givens, Smith and Montgomery
  • Tape: 12 Story: 4 - James D. Montgomery talks about the LaTanya Haggerty case
  • Tape: 12 Story: 5 - James D. Montgomery describes his recent cases and plans for the future
  • Tape: 12 Story: 6 - James D. Montgomery describes what makes a good litigator
  • Tape: 12 Story: 7 - James D. Montgomery gives advice for young African American lawyers
  • Tape: 12 Story: 8 - James D. Montgomery describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 12 Story: 9 - James D. Montgomery reflects upon his legacy