Illinois’ second African American state Supreme Court justice has taken his seat on the state’s high court, replacing Justice Charles Freeman, the state’s first African American Supreme Court justice, who has retired.
On June 15, P. Scott Neville took the oath of office, ascending from the Illinois First District Appellate Court by appointment of the high court’s other justices to fill the seat being vacated by Freeman.
Neville will hold the seat until at least 2020, filling the remainder of Freeman’s term, until he can stand for election. The state Supreme Court has authority under the state constitution to fill judicial vacancies in the state’s courts, including among its own members.
Neville has served on the appellate court for 14 years, when he was appointed in 2004. He later won election to the appeals court eight years later.
Justice P. Scott Neville
Neville came to the bench from more than a quarter century of private practice, after serving as law clerk to Appellate Court Justice Glenn T. Johnson, becoming the first African American man to clerk for a Cook County appellate justice.
In 1992, Neville worked on the legal team, along with future President Barack Obama, that successfully prosecuted the Chicago Ward “ReMap” case,
Neville became a judge in 1999 when he was appointed to the Cook County Circuit Court in 1999, and elected a year later.
On the appellate court, Neville served as chairman of the Executive Committee for the Illinois First District Appellate Court and on the Appellate Court’s Executive Committee. He most recently served as presiding justice for the court’s Second Division.
He earned his law degree from the Washington University School of Law.
“Justice Neville is an experienced and highly respected member of the bench and was a unanimous choice to succeed Justice Freeman,” Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier said in a prepared statement. “Through his service on both the circuit and appellate courts, Justice Neville has demonstrated his deep commitment to the principles of fairness, justice and the rule of law.
"While we shall deeply miss Justice Freeman, Justice Neville will be an outstanding addition to the Supreme Court. My colleagues and I are all looking forward to working with him.”
Neville replaces Freeman, who retired at the age of 84, after more than 27 years on the state Supreme Court.