CHICAGO, August 24 LAWFUEL – Best for law, law news, legal news, legal research – Retired Illinois Supreme Court Justice Seymour F. Simon, a partner at Piper Rudnick LLP, will receive the Chicago Bar Foundation and Chicago Bar Association’s Justice John Paul Stevens award, the law firm has announced.
Justice Simon will be honored at the Fifth Annual Justice John Paul Stevens Award luncheon, to be held September 15 at The Standard Club in Chicago. The featured speaker at the event will be U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
The Justice John Paul Stevens award celebrates Illinois attorneys who have best exemplified Justice Stevens’ lifelong effort to improve the justice system.
“I can think of no one more deserving of this award than Seymour, who has never wavered in his commitment to a more just community,” said Allen J. Ginsburg, managing partner of Piper Rudnick’s Chicago office. “His extraordinary integrity is an inspiration to us all.”
Among Justice Simon’s most significant work is his long battle against the death penalty. In 2000, when then-Governor George H. Ryan announced his blanket commutation of Death Row inmates, he cited a letter from Justice Simon as one of the elements that helped persuade him to take this extraordinary step, which made headlines around the world. Justice Simon had been an outspoken foe of capital punishment for many years, including in the months before Governor Ryan announced his decision.
Novelist Scott Turow said of Simon that he is “an extraordinary example of what a public servant and a lawyer can do to improve the life of his city and his fellow human beings.”
Seymour Simon, born in Chicago in 1915, received his J.D. from Northwestern University School of Law in 1938. He was an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division until 1942; then served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was decorated with the Legion of Merit. After the war, he entered private practice. He also became a Chicago alderman; president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners as well as president of the Cook County Forest Preserve District; and a member of the Chicago Public Building Commission; then was elected again to the Chicago City Council, serving there until his election to the Appellate Court in 1974. He was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1980, retiring in 1988 to join Piper Rudnick.
As a partner at Piper Rudnick, he engages in a litigation and appellate practice in all areas of commercial law.
Among the numerous honors and recognitions Justice Simon has received are the American Veterans Committee Hubert L. Will Award, Decalogue Society of Lawyers Award of Merit, the Commitment to Justice Award from the Chicago Council of Lawyers and the Appleseed Fund for Justice, the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Illinois Judges Association, the Northwestern University Alumni Association Award of Merit, and the Justice Award from the Jewish Judges Association of Illinois. He has received honorary doctorates from Northwestern University, North Park University, and John Marshall Law School.
Two other eminent members of the Chicago legal community will also receive the Justice John Paul Stevens Award at the Standard Club event. They are Martha W. Mills and George W. Overton. Mr. Overton’s award will be given posthumously.
The CBF and CBA are honoring Judge Mills for her groundbreaking professional achievements in civil rights litigation and on behalf of women and children, including domestic abuse and child abuse prevention. In the 1960s, as a Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law attorney in Mississippi, she tried numerous civil and criminal cases all over the state, including many cutting-edge civil rights cases. She was one of the first twelve laureates of the ISBA’s Academy of Illinois Lawyers and the second woman from Illinois to be inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers. She is also known as a writer and teacher.
Mr. Overton, a legend in the Chicago legal community, is being remembered posthumously by the CBF and CBA for his many significant accomplishments during his 56 years of practice. He helped establish public television in Chicago; worked alongside Senator Paul Douglas to establish the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; and played a key role in the writing of the 1990 Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct. For almost 20 years, Mr. Overton wrote the legal ethics column in the CBA Record. When Mr. Overton retired from his practice, one of his admirers, Judge Thomas More Donnelly, said he “embodies the lawyer-statesman.”