This week, Illinois state Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas has announced that he will be stepping down at the end of the month.
“While I will miss the collegial atmosphere with my colleagues on the court, I am ready to return to the practice of law and help clients achieve justice,” Thomas declared in a press release, adding, “the Lord has truly blessed me.”
Thomas announces retirement
The Republican justice joined the state’s high court in 2000 and was made chief half a decade later, occupying the position for three years. Thomas referred to his tenure as “tremendous honor and privilege.”
“I am especially grateful for the support and hard work of my staff,” Thomas continued, offering praise to those who worked under him.
“I’ve had the same team working with me for nearly 20 years – my administrative assistant Vicki Kravcar, and my law clerks Mick Penosky, Shannon Sullivan, Craig Belford, and John Werner,” Thomas said. “They’re the best team any judge could ask for, and I will miss working alongside them.”
— Illinois Supreme Court (@illinoiscourts) February 10, 2020
A respected judge
Current Chief Justice Anne M. Burke had warm words for Thomas, stating that he “was the Chief when I joined the court and he cultivated a welcoming and professional environment. His great sense of humor made a challenging job more enjoyable for everyone.”
Burke added, “He led key court initiatives in the areas of professionalism, civility, continuing legal education and transparency.”
“On behalf of the Supreme Court and the entire Judicial Branch, we thank him for his service to the judiciary and wish him the best in the next stage of his storied career.”
Thomas’ official biography states that “he was elected Circuit Court Judge in DuPage County in 1988.”
“There, he presided over civil jury trials and was the Acting Chief Judge from 1989 to 1994. In 1994, Judge Thomas was elected to the Appellate Court Second District.”
Former NFL athlete
In addition to his legal career, Thomas was also an accomplished athlete. After playing football at the University of Notre Dame, he went on to spend 12 years in the NFL.
Thomas was a kicker for the Chicago Bears for ten seasons and played for the Detroit Lions and the New York Giants.