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Terrence Hopkins

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5th District Appellate Justice Hopkins dies at 58

Jurist gained wide respect on court

Justice Terrence Hopkins of the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon died Monday morning.

Hopkins, 58, died during his sleep, according to Joe Tybor, spokesman for the Illinois Supreme Court.

Hopkins, of West Frankfort, was up for retention in 2004 and won another 10-year term on the court. The Illinois Supreme Court will now select Hopkins' replacement, who will serve until the next general election, which is in 2008.

In selecting a replacement, the Supreme Court typically approves the recommendation of the Supreme Court justice whose district covers the vacancy. Justice Lloyd Karmeier of Washington County is southern Illinois' high court justice.

Hopkins' death comes amid a charged race for an open seat on the appeals court. Belleville Republican Steve McGlynn, who was appointed to the court in 2005, is running against Saline County Circuit Judge Bruce Stewart, a Democrat. Democrat Gordon Maag of Madison County had held the seat but failed to get enough votes for retention in 2004.

Hopkins' death also illustrates one of the reasons groups spent a record $9 million on the Supreme Court race in 2004 between Maag and Karmeier, a Republican. Supreme Court justices appoint judges to vacancies in lower courts, and Karmeier already is looking at making a second appointment to the appeals court.

Karmeier said Hopkins "took enormous pleasure in his family, but was also deeply dedicated to his community, to the legal profession and to the judiciary."

Karmeier also said Hopkins was an important part of the state's judicial education program.

"The combination of scholarly insight, practical experience and good humor which Justice Hopkins brought to his teaching made him a popular and much sought-after speaker at the court's educational conferences and seminars for new judges. His presence will be deeply missed," Karmeier said.

McGlynn said, "What a tragedy. He was a beloved colleague, well respected not just from the justices on our appellate court but from appellate justices around the state. He was an all-around great guy."

Stewart said, "He was a giant in the legal community. He was intelligent and diverse."

Former appellate Judge Clyde Kuehn of Belleville said, "He listened to me and I listened to him. Sometimes he changed my mind and sometimes I changed him, but most times we thought alike and he was a pleasure to know."

Hopkins received his bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1970 and his law degree from St. Louis University in 1974. He had been a Franklin County state's attorney (1976-83) and a circuit judge in the 2nd Judicial Circuit (1983-94).

Hopkins was elected to the appellate court in November 1994. Hopkins and his wife, Jeri, have three adult children.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Oct. 17, 2006
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