Back to the Library
Former Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Benjamin K. Miller has joined Jenner & Block as Of Counsel, becoming the second Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court to practice law at the Firm. The first was Floyd E. Thompson, who joined the Firm in 1929 (when it was named Poppenhusen, Johnston, Thompson & Cole) after serving nearly 16 years as a member of the Illinois Supreme Court. Justice Miller, who earned a reputation as one of the high court’s most innovative Justices during the 1980s and 1990s, will be located in the Firm’s Chicago office. His practice will focus on appeals, mediating disputes, and business consultations.
While a member of the Illinois Supreme Court between December 1984 and January 2001, Justice Miller authored numerous landmark opinions. One of his most significant achievements as Chief Justice was convening the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council to help improve the cooperation and response of Illinois courts and agencies to matters of family violence. In fact, he is the namesake of the Illinois family Violence Coordinating Council’s coveted Justice Benjamin K. Miller Award, given to individuals who have played a significant role in addressing family violence.
Justice Miller initiated other innovative programs that focused on expanding judicial performance evaluations statewide, adding non-lawyers to disciplinary hearing board panels that ruled upon attorney misconduct, and amendments to the Code of Judicial Conduct clarifying the restrictions on political activity by judges and judicial candidates. He also established the Special Commission on the Administration of Justice, chaired by Firm Chairman Jerold S. Solovy, which produced two separate reports on the management practices and administration of the Illinois courts and on the state’s juvenile justice system.
A native of Springfield, Justice Miller received a B.A. degree from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1958 and a J.D. from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1961. He returned to Springfield and, following his admission to the Bar of Illinois that year, engaged in the private practice of law until 1976, when he was appointed a Circuit Court Judge for the 7th Judicial Circuit. He was elected to that position in 1978, served as presiding judge in the criminal felony division from 1976 to 1980, and in 1981 was elected Chief Judge of the 7th Judicial Circuit, which includes six counties in central Illinois. He served in that capacity until 1982, when he was elected to the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District. In 1984, he was elected to the Supreme Court, and he was retained in 1994. He served as Chief Justice from January 1, 1991 to January 1, 1994.