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Robert Thomas
College of DuPage Selected as Debut Site for Traveling Bicentennial Exhibit on Illinois Law 29 (44830423301) (1).jpg
Thomas in 2018
Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court for the Second District
In office
December 4, 2000 – February 29, 2020
Preceded byS. Louis Rathje[1]
Succeeded byMichael J. Burke[2]
Personal details
Born (1952-08-07) August 7, 1952 (age 70)[3]
Rochester, New York
Political partyRepublican
Alma materUniversity of Notre Dame (B.A.)
Loyola University (J.D.)

Football career
No. 16
Personal information
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:178 lb (81 kg)
Career information
College:Notre Dame
NFL Draft:1974 / Round: 15 / Pick: 388
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Field Goals:151
Field Goals attempts:239
Player stats at

Robert Randall Thomas (born August 7, 1952) is a former justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois and a former professional football player. He has served as the Illinois Supreme Court Justice for the Second District since December 4, 2000, and as chief justice from September 6, 2005 to September 5, 2008. His political affiliation is Republican.

Early life and education

Born in Rochester, New York, Thomas graduated from McQuaid Jesuit High School in Rochester, where he excelled both academically and in athletics, lettering in both football and soccer.

He attended the University of Notre Dame where he kicked for the football team, including kicking the winning field goal in the 1973 Sugar Bowl victory over University of Alabama, which clinched the AP National Championship that season for Notre Dame. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Government in 1974[3] and was named an Academic All-American in that same year.

He received his Juris Doctor degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 1981.[3]

Athletic career

Thomas had a twelve-year career as a kicker in the National Football League.[4]

He played for the Chicago Bears (19751982 and 19831984), the Detroit Lions (1982), the San Diego Chargers (1985), and the New York Giants (1986).

Legal career

He was elected circuit court judge in DuPage County in 1988.[3] 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 Illinois Appellate Court, Second District. On December 4, 2000, Justice Thomas was sworn in as the Illinois Supreme Court Justice for the Second District after defeating incumbent S. Louis Rathje in a contentious primary. Justice Thomas was elected to serve as Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice on September 6, 2005, and served as the Chief Justice until September 5, 2008.[5] In February 2020, he announced he would be resigned from the Supreme Court effective February 29.[6]

Ruling on Rahm Emanuel ballot eligibility

On January 1, 2011, Justice Thomas authored the Illinois State Supreme Court decision Maksym v. Chicago Board of Elections[7] that overturned a lower court ruling that Rahm Emanuel was ineligible to run for Mayor of Chicago.

Honors and awards

In April 1996, Thomas was inducted into the Academic All-American Hall of Fame.[3] In January 1999, he received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.[3]

Justice Thomas is a member of the DuPage County Bar Association.[3]

Defamation of character lawsuit

In 2007, Justice Thomas was awarded $7 million in a successful defamation of character lawsuit against Bill Page, a former columnist at the Kane County Chronicle. Thomas' lawyers alleged that Page had essentially accused him of official misconduct, a felony. Page wrote in his column that Thomas had traded his vote on a disciplinary case in exchange for political support for his favored candidate in a local judicial race. The case was significant because it prompted an Illinois appellate court to establish a judicial privilege in Illinois, allowing judicial deliberations to be kept private, much like doctor-patient discussions.[8]

Later in 2007, after the newspaper filed suit against Thomas in federal court, the parties came together and settled all litigation, with the newspaper agreeing to pay Thomas $3 million.[9]


  1. ^ Illinois blue book, 1999–2000 page 160
  2. ^ "Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas Retiring At The End Of Februrary; [sic] Played Kicker For Chicago Bears For 10 Seasons". CBS Chicago. 10 February 2020. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Robert R. Thomas, Supreme Court Justice". Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  4. ^ Kleppel, Ken. "From The Gridiron To The Supreme Court". University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 2008-01-30.
  5. ^ "Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert R. Thomas".
  6. ^ Bagby, Laura (11 February 2020). "Justice Robert R. Thomas to Retire from Illinois Supreme Court". 2Civility. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  7. ^ Walter P. Maksym et al., Appellees, v. The Board of Election Commissioners of the City of Chicago et al., Appellants. (PDF), retrieved 2011-01-27
  8. ^ Seelye, Katharine Q. (November 20, 2006). "Clash of a Judge and a Small Paper Underlines the Tangled History of Defamation". The New York Times. Retrieved March 28, 2008.
  9. ^ "Illinois' chief justice settles defamation case against newspaper for $3 million". Daily Report.
Preceded byMirro RoderJohn Roveto Chicago Bears Kickers 1975–19811983–1984 Succeeded byJohn RovetoKevin Butler
Legal offices Preceded byS. Louis Rathje Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court 2000–2020 Succeeded byP. Scott Neville Jr.