Justice Moses W. Harrison II
Chief Justice Moses W. Harrison II
was a judge and a gentleman. Most of all, he was a friend and a champion of ordinary people. Chief Justice Harrison passed away Thursday, April 25, after a long illness. He was 81.
"My former colleague, friend and mentor Chief Justice Harrison will be remembered as a prominent judge in Illinois legal history not because he was a great man, but because he never lost sight of the common man," said Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride "His commitment to equality and fairness went well beyond his simple, succinct, yet superlative opinions. He treated all people in all stations in life with the same kindness, dignity and respect. That fundamental decency guided his work as a judge, and his work guided Illinois law.
"Illinois is a sadder place today because of his death, but it will forever be a better place because of his life."
Justice Harrison was a member of the Illinois judiciary for 29 years; a member of the Illinois Supreme Court for 10 years; and Chief Justice from Jan. 1, 2000 to September 5, 2002, when he retired. His legacy is quite larger.
A Chicago Tribune profile in 1999 described him as "a gentleman rebel, a distinctly gracious man whose convictions are firm and manners mild."
During his tenure on the Supreme Court, he was most known and honored for demonstrating a commitment to justice and human welfare, writing—either for the majority or in dissent—to defend the poor, the weak, the young and the elderly against corporate or government policies which went against their interests.