George N. Leighton

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George N. Leighton
Senior Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
In office
February 27, 1986 – December 1, 1987
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
In office
February 4, 1976 – February 27, 1986
Appointed by Gerald Ford
Preceded by Abraham L. Marovitz
Succeeded by James Henry Alesia
Personal details
Born George Neves Leitão
(1912-10-22) October 22, 1912 (age 103)
New Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S.
Alma mater Howard University
Harvard Law School
Occupation Retired judge; World War II veteran military officer

George N. Leighton (né George Neves Leitão; born October 22, 1912) is a retired African-American jurist.

Personal life[edit]

George Neves Leitão was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts to Ana Silva Garcia and António Neves Leitão, both originally from Brava, Cape Verde.[1] His surname was anglicised as "Leighton" by a teacher who claimed she could not pronounce his last name "Leitão". His parents agreed.[2]

Leighton was married to the late Virginia Berry Quivers; the couple had two daughters, Virginia Anne and Barbara Elaine. As of 2015, Leighton has five grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.[3][4] He was a tournament chess player.[5] He turned 103 in October 2015.[6][7]


Leighton graduated from Howard University with an A.B. in 1940 and from Harvard Law School with an LL.B. in 1946. From 1942-1945 he had served in the United States army, raising to the rank of Captain. He was in private practice from 1946–64, aside from the period during which he served as Assistant State Attorney General of Illinois (1949–51). He was a Master in Chancery, Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois from 1960–64.[citation needed]

Leighton was a judge with the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois from 1964–69, and was a judge with the First District Appellate Court of Illinois from 1969-76. Leighton was the first African-American to hold this position in the State of Illinois. In 1975 President Gerald Ford nominated Leighton to a seat on the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. This was a seat being vacated by Abraham L. Marovitz. He was confirmed on February 2, 1976, and received commission on February 4, 1976. He retired from this position on November 30, 1987, and returned to the practice of law with the firm of Earl L. Neal & Associates.[8]

Leighton became a Life Member in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1964, having served the Chicago branch as president and general counsel for several years. On June 29, 2012, the Cook County Criminal Courthouse in Chicago was renamed in his honor as The Hon. George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building.



External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Abraham Lincoln Marovitz
Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Succeeded by
James Henry Alesia