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Joseph F. Cunningham

Previous Illinois Supreme Court Justice


Joseph F. Cunningham was born in East St. Louis, Illinois on February 25, 1924. He received his B.A. degree from the University of Dayton (Ohio) and his J.D. from Washington University Law School in St. Louis. He was admitted to the Missouri and Illinois bars in 1952, and admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Eighth Circuit Federal Court, Eastern District, Missouri. After engaging in private practice, Justice Cunningham began his judicial career in 1965 in the Twentieth Judicial Circuit where he served as a Magistrate, an Associate Judge and a Circuit Judge. He was Chief Judge from 1975 to 1984 and again in 1987, during which time he served as chairman of the Conference of Chief Circuit Judges and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Illinois Judicial Conference. On June 17, 1991, he was appointed Justice of the Supreme Court of Illinois to fill the vacancy created by the death of Justice Horace L. Calvo on June 3, 1991. He was succeeded by Moses W. Harrison II. Prior to his appointment, Justice Cunningham was Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, a position to which he was appointed in July 1990 following his retirement in December 1988 as a Justice of the Supreme Court, where he had served since September 1987. He succeeded Joseph H. Goldenhersh at that time. Justice Cunningham has been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from Washington University and has served as Adjunct Professor of McKendree College in Lebanon, Illinois. He also has served as Director of Children First, Inc. Justice Cunningham married the former Mary Margaret Keeley and they had two children: J. Thomas and Da-Neil Ann. Justice Cunningham died in St. Louis, Missouri, on July 13, 2008.