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Moses Wilkins Harrison II

1932 - 2013
Moses Wilkins Harrison II Obituary
Moses Harrison II

Moses Wilkins Harrison II, 81, of Caseyville, Ill., born on March 30, 1932, in Collinsville, Ill., died on April 25, 2013, at Missouri Baptist Hospital in St. Louis, Mo.

He graduated from Colorado College in 1954 and from Washington University School of Law in 1958. He practiced law in East St. Louis, Ill., and then later in Collinsville, Ill., over a period of 15 years. In 1973, he was appointed Circuit Judge by the Supreme Court of Illinois and was elected to that position in 1974. At the time of his appointment, he was senior partner of the law firm of Harrison, Rarick, and Cadagin in Collinsville, Ill. He served two terms as Chief Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit in Edwardsville, Ill., during his six years on the circuit courts.

In 1979, Judge Harrison was appointed by the Supreme Court of Illinois to the Appellate Court, Fifth District, in Mount Vernon, Ill. He was elected in 1980, and was retained by the voters in 1990, as an appellate judge. During his service on the Illinois Appellate Courts, he served two terms as presiding judge (chief judge) of the Fifth District Appellate Court. He also served one term as chairman of the Illinois Appellate Court and on numerous Supreme Court committees.

He was elected to the Supreme Court of Illinois in Springfield, Ill., in 1992. Justice Harrison was selected to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court for a three year term beginning Jan. 1, 2000. He retired from judicial service on Sept. 5, 2002.

During his tenure as chief justice, he advocated against the death penalty. In April 2000, he appeared on "60 Minutes" with Mike Wallace to discuss the Illinois death penalty. He also appeared in the movie "Too Flawed to Fix: The Illinois Death Penalty Experience."

When asked how he saw his role, he said "People often ask how I see my role as a judge. It is to protect ordinary citizens against wrongdoing by the government, large corporations and powerful individuals."

Chief Justice Harrison was a member of the American Bar Association., Metropolitan Bar Association of St. Louis, Mo., Tri-City Bar Association, Madison County Bar Association, Justinian Society of Lawyers (the Italian-American Bar Association), and the Illinois Judges Association. He served as president of the Madison County Bar Association and was a member of the Board of Governors of the Illinois Bar Association.

He was the recipient of the Justinian Society of Lawyers Award of Excellence. Later the Justinian Society named an award in his honor (the Moses W. Harrison Award) which is given to an outstanding lawyer each year at their Installation Dinner in Chicago, Ill. Justice Harrison presented the award to the recipients.

Moses Harrison was also the recipient of the Illinois Bar Association Access to Justice Award, which is given to those who have done outstanding pro bono work, the Washington University School of Law Distinguished Alumni Award, the David Lee Hoskins, Jr. Humanitarian Award, and the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People Humanitarian Award. Although Justice Harrison was offered many other awards, he chose to accept only those few.

He was a former warden of Christ Episcopal Church of Collinsville, Ill., and a member of the Vestry. At the time of his death, he was a member of St. Michael's Episcopal Church, O'Fallon, Ill. He served as vice-president and board member of the First Bank of Maryville, Maryville, Ill. He was also a board member and secretary of the Maryville Colonial Nursing Home Inc. He was a member of the Board of the Collinsville Lions Club and a life member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Dr. Clarence and Loretta, nee O'Hara, Harrison, and his son, Luke W. Harrison.

Surviving are his wife of 51 years, Sharon, nee Phillips, Harrison, whom he married on Dec. 30, 1961, in Collinsville, Ill.; his son, Clarence and his wife, Carol and their daughters, Lauren and Rachel; and his grandchildren, Sarah and Jacob, and their mother, Mary Harrison.

Memorials may be made to St. Michael's Episcopal Church, 111 O'Fallon Troy Road, O'Fallon, Ill. 62269, or the Justinian Society of Lawyers Scholarship Fund, 734 N. Wells Street, Chicago, Ill. 60610. Memories and expressions of condolences may be made at www.lakeviewfuneralhm.com.

Funeral: Private services.

LAKE VIEW FUNERAL HOME, Fairview Heights, Ill.
Published in Belleville News-Democrat on Apr. 28, 2013
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