Charles E. Freeman

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Charles E. Freeman (born 1933) is an American attorney and first district justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. He was elected to his position on the court on November 6, 1990, becoming its first African-American justice.[1] He served as Chief Justice from May 12, 1997 to January 1, 2000.[1] His political affiliation is Democratic.

Early life, family and education[edit]

Freeman is originally from Virginia. His surname may have been adopted when his father's family was freed from slavery by Quakers before the Civil War.

Charles Freeman received his undergraduate degree from Virginia Union University in 1954 and earned his J.D. degree from John Marshall Law School in Chicago in 1962.[1]


Illinois Governor Otto Kerner appointed Freeman to the Illinois Industrial Commission in January 1965 as an arbitrator. Freeman heard thousands of work-related injury cases. In September 1973 Governor Dan Walker named Freeman to the Illinois Commerce Commission, a rate regulatory agency with power over telephone, electricity and gas companies. Freeman worked on the commission until December 1976.[1]

Freeman also conducted a general law practice from 1962 until 1976, when he was elected to the Cook County Circuit Court. He served ten years on the court and swore in Harold Washington, a personal friend, as Mayor of Chicago. Freeman is a member of several bar associations and professional judiciary societies, and has won a number of awards throughout his career.

Freeman now ranks as the senior member of the Illinois Supreme Court after his re-election in 2002. While on the court he has shown particular interest in administrative reform and prosecutorial misconduct cases.

Personal life[edit]

Freeman is married. He resides in Chicago.[1] His son is also an attorney.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Charles E. Freeman, Supreme Court Justice First District". Archived from the original on April 18, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2016. 

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