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Jenner & Block Of Counsel Benjamin K. Miller, former Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, was recently awarded "The Honorable George N. Leighton Justice Award" by the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission, in recognition of his dedication to the highest standards of the legal profession and commitment to public service. Justice Miller is the second recipient of the honor; in 2009, the inaugural award was presented to its namesake, Judge George N. Leighton.
Justice Miller served as a Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court from 1984 to 2001 and as Chief Justice from 1991 to 1994. During his time on the Court, he participated in more than 2,000 cases and wrote nearly 500 opinions, including numerous landmark decisions. He brought a pro-active, forward-looking perspective to the Court, working for an aggressive evaluation process for Illinois judges and an improved system of judicial education that became a model around the country, and preparing the judicial system for changing demographic, economic and technological forces in Illinois. As part of these initiatives, in 1992, he established the Special Commission on the Administration of Justice, headed by Chairman Emeritus Jerold S. Solovy, to study the State’s judicial system and make recommendations as to how it could be improved.
Justice Miller has been involved in many professional and civic organizations. He received an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago. He is the namesake of the Illinois Domestic Violence Coordinating Council’s coveted Justice Benjamin K. Miller Award, given to individuals who have played a significant role in addressing domestic violence. He was a founding member of the Central Illinois Women’s Bar Association and was the first member of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois to serve on the Illinois Supreme Court. Justice Miller has served as an adjunct professor at the Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Department of Medical Humanities since 1974.
Justice Miller began his career practicing law in Springfield in 1961. In 1976, he was appointed a Circuit Court judge for the Seventh Judicial Circuit and was elected to the position in 1978. In 1982, he was elected to the Fourth District Appellate Court where he served until his election to the state’s highest court.
The Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission was created in 2007 to increase public awareness of the Illinois judiciary’s contributions to the state’s extensive legal heritage. Mr. Solovy is Chair of the Commission.