One of the definitions of "primogeniture" in Merriam-Webster's on-line dictionary is "an exclusive right of inheritance belonging to the eldest son."
That doesn't exactly describe the thinking of the legal powers in Madison County, but it's close and it hasn't changed as yet another member of the legal "family" in Madison has announced his candidacy for judge, a judgeship he very well may have been appointed to in previous times.
Clarence Harrison, who WAS appointed an associate judge in Madison County six years ago, is the son of former trial lawyer, judge and Supreme Court justice Moses Harrison. Moses Harrison retired from the Illinois Supreme Court in 2002 but only after he had announced he would seek retention and then retired too late for the vacant seat to be on the ballot in 2002. Instead, he orchestrated the appointment of Philip Rarick to the Supreme Court.
The younger Harrison was appointed an associate judge by the nine circuit court judges in the Third Judicial Circuit -- judges whose cases may have been reviewed by Justice Moses Harrison on the Supreme Court.
He previously practiced with the law firm of Morris B. Chapman & Associates in Granite City, Illinois, concentrating in trial and appellate practice involving personal injury litigation, including professional malpractice. He was a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
Clarence Harrison and Father
Harrison is not the first member of the Morris B. Chapman firm to be appointed to the bench. Chapman's daughter, Melissa, was appointed an appellate judge in June, 2001. She was appointed to the position by then-Supreme Court Justice Moses Harrison.
There is no doubt that the election of Lloyd Karmeier to the Supreme Court from the Fifth District in 2004 was in part a reaction -- a sign of anger and frustration -- by citizens of the Fifth District to the judicial games played by the "family" in Madison County.
"I'll take care of your daughter and when it's my turn, we'll take care of my son."
It goes something like that.
But the citizens -- the voters -- in the Fifth District said it loudly and clearly in 2004: "We're tired of that system. We want judges who are fair, with no agenda, and with no obligation to take care of the lawyers or power brokers who have ruled for years."
While he was Supreme Court justice, Moses Harrison said this in a speech:
"People often ask how I see my role as a judge. My answer today is the same as it was twenty-eight years ago.
It is to protect ordinary citizens against wrongdoing by the government, large corporations, and powerful individuals.
Clarence Harrison has said he wants to follow in his father's footsteps. We do not need another judge who has an agenda, a mission to go after corporations or "powerful individuals." We do need judges who understand what the law is, and that their job is to apply the law fairly to everyone who comes before the bench
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Illinois Supreme Court
Illinois Trial Lawyers Association