Former IL Supreme Court Justice Stamos, author of Himmel decision, dies

By The Cook County Record | Jan 30, 2017

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to correctly identify the chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. 

A former Illinois Supreme Court justice and Cook County State’s Attorney who authored the state high court’s landmark decision upholding the rule requiring attorneys to report misconduct by other lawyers has died, the Illinois Supreme Court announced Monday.

According to the release, former Justice John J. Stamos died Saturday, Jan. 28, at the age of 92, in Northbrook.

Stamos served as a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court from 1988-1990, serving on the seat from Cook County and the state’s First Judicial District. Stamos was appointed to the state high court in 1988 after former Justice Seymour Simon resigned.

Stamos had been seated on the Illinois First District Appellate Court in 1968 and served on that court until appointed to the Supreme Court.

Before winning a seat on the appeals court, Stamos served as assistant Chicago city corporation counsel, and then worked in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, beginning in 1954. He was appointed Cook County State’s Attorney in 1966, but landed on the appeals court two years later after former Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley refused to support his candidacy for state’s attorney, choosing Edward Hanrahan instead, according to an article published by the Chicago Tribune in 1988 at the time of his appointment to the high court.

Stamos opted not to seek election to the Illinois Supreme Court, leaving in 1990 to enter private practice with his son at the firm of Stamos & Trucco.

While his time on the state Supreme Court was relatively brief, the court’s release announcing Stamos’ passing noted he left his mark, writing the opinion known as In Re: Himmel, a decision which affirmed the duty and obligation of lawyers to inform the courts of misconduct on the part of other lawyers or other officials involved in the justice system.

“The case has been cited hundreds of times in the legal literature and has had a profound and positive impact on how lawyers conduct themselves in Illinois and throughout the United States,” said current Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier, in a prepared statement. “The people of our state owe him a debt of gratitude for his unwavering commitment to the highest principles of justice. He will be missed."

The release from the Illinois Supreme Court noted Stamos had received numerous “awards and accolades,” including the Distinguished Service Award from the National District Attorneys Association, the Professional Achievement Award from the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, and the Liberty Bell Award from the Federal Bar Association.

Former Appellate Justice Gino L. DiVito, who served with Stamos in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, described Stamos in the release as “a great state's attorney and justice."

"He was always dedicated to doing the right thing. He truly believed in that," DiVito said in his statement provided by the high court.

The release said funeral services for Stamos will be Thursday, Feb. 2, at 11:30 a.m. at Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church, 1401 Wagner Road, Glenview. Visitation will be Wednesday, Feb. 1, from 4-9 p.m. at Smith-Corcoran Funeral Homes, 6150 N. Cicero Ave., Chicago.

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