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Elected officials, judges, and the public joined the Honorable George N. Leighton and his family on Friday, June 29th for the renaming and dedication ceremony at the Cook County Criminal Court Building.
The courthouse, located at 26th and California, will now be known as “The Honorable George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building”. The renaming commemorates Judge Leighton’s decades of service to the justice system and the example he set for those in the legal profession everywhere. An installation in Judge Leighton’s honor has been placed near the entrance of the courthouse, and includes memorabilia from his time as a judge and civil rights advocate.
“I don’t have any proud moments, there’s no room for pride,” Judge Leighton said about the dedication, and his life’s work. “I’m not proud, I’m satisfied. It’s a manifestation of appreciation. It’s good to know that someone appreciates the things I did.”
The 99-year-old Leighton is celebrated for a lifetime of achievement as a scholar, judge, humanitarian and freedom fighter. He rose from humble beginnings in New Bedford, MA, where he worked daily in the cranberry fields. Despite only completing seventh grade, perseverance and hard work led him to earn degrees at Howard University and Harvard Law School. Judge Leighton began his legal career as a civil rights attorney, defending clients at the courthouse that now bears his name. In 1964 he was elected to Circuit Court judge and later became the first African American to serve on the Illinois Appellate Court, which he did from 1969 – 1975. From there, he was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, where he served for more than 20 years.
The Cook County Board of Commissioners voted to rename the courthouse in March 2012, after Alderman Ed Burke suggested the measure to President Preckwinkle. The building was built in 1929, and remains one of the busiest criminal courthouses in the United States.
The Office of Capital Planning and Policy, within the Bureau of Economic Development, sets forth the plan for the design, construction and renovation of Cook County Government buildings and building systems. The Honorable George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building is one of these facilities.
Contact UsCook County Bureau of Economic Development
69 W. Washington St
Chicago, IL 60602
312-603-1077 or 1000 (o)
E-mail us at: Info.Edev@cookcountyil.gov
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