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The 7 justices of the Illinois Supreme Court

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride, D-Rock Island, 57, elected 2000. He spent 20 years in private practice in the Quad Cities handling environmental, labor and employment law before ascending to the state’s high court. He narrowly survived an effort by business groups and Republicans to knock him off the court in last year’s retention election.

Justice Charles Freeman, D-Chicago, 76, elected 1990. Freeman is the court’s first African-American justice. He worked as a prosecutor and an assistant attorney general before becoming a judge 34 years ago. He administered the oath of office to Mayor Harold Washington. Last month, on Freeman’s recommendation, the Supreme Court appointed the wife of Emanuel’s main attorney, Mike Kasper, to a vacancy on the Cook County Circuit Court. Freeman is a native of Richmond, Va.

Justice Bob Thomas, R-Wheaton, 58, elected 2000. Thomas was a kicker for the Chicago Bears. Mike Ditka and other Bears backed him when he ran for his seat on the high court. He earlier served as an appellate judge in DuPage County. Thomas is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a native of Rochester, N.Y.

Justice Rita Garman, R-Danville, 57, was a downstate prosecutor, legal aid lawyer and an attorney in private practice before becoming a judge 34 years ago. An Aurora native, she got her law degree from the University of Iowa.

Justice Lloyd Karmeier, R-Nashville, Ill., 71, elected 2004. Karmeier served as state’s attorney of downstate Washington County and also spent years in private practice before being elected a judge in 1986. His 2004 Supreme Court victory over Gordon Maag broke all records for campaign spending: business groups supported Karmeier, while trial lawyers lined up behind Maag. Karmeier got his law degree from the University of Illinois.

Justice Anne Burke, D-Chicago, 66, elected 2008. Burke, wife of Ald. Edward Burke (14th), who supports Emanuel rival Gery Chico, served on the Illinois Court of Claims and was appointed special counsel to the governor on child welfare services before being elected to the appellate court. She is a graduate of Chicago-Kent College of Law. Before going into law, Burke helped found the Special Olympics. She also served as acting chair of a national lay commission set up by the Catholic church to investigate allegations of priest misconduct.

Mary Jane Theis, D-Chicago, 60, appointed last year. Theis is a former assistant public defender elected to the bench in 1988 and elevated to the appellate court in 1994. When Judge Thomas Fitzgerald announced his retirement last year, he suggested to his fellow justices they appoint Theis to replace him. Theis is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Law and the daughter of former Judge Kenneth Wendt.

Abdon M. Pallasch

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