Illinois chief justice to retire in September

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- Moses Harrison II, the outspoken chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, will retire in September.

Harrison mentioned personal reasons when he announced his decision to court colleagues Monday morning, but he did not elaborate, court spokesman Joseph Tybor said.

The court appointed Philip Rarick, an appellate court justice from Collinsville and old friend of Harrison's, to take the seat. Rarick will serve on an interim basis until December 2004 and intends to seek election to a full term on the court, Tybor said.

Harrison, 70, of Fairview Heights has served on the high court since December 1992. His 10-year term expires in December but he had already announced his re-election bid. Tybor said it is too late to put someone else's name on the ballot, so Rarick has been appointed to the seat. Chief justice since January 2000, Harrison perhaps is best known for a scathing dissenting opinion in the death penalty case People vs. Bull in November 1998. In it, Harrison urged abolition of the death penalty before an innocent man inevitably is put to death.

Harrison has dissented in every death penalty case since. More recently, his dissents have centered on his contention that defendants facing capital punishment should get new trials if they were condemned before the court in January 2001 adopted new rules for conducting capital trials. Harrison also led the high court, with a 5-2 Democratic majority, through the legislative redistricting process last fall.

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