On January 18, 2021, retired Illinois Supreme Court Justice James D. Heiple, passed away in Peoria from complications following a brain hemorrhage. He was 87. During his time on the Illinois Supreme Court, Justice Heiple authored 175 majority opinions, 98 dissents, 27 special concurrences and 18 partial concurrences/partial dissents.
Justice Heiple was born in Peoria in 1933, the son of attorney and banker Rae Crane and Harriet Birkett Heiple. He received his undergraduate degree from Bradley University and and his law degree from the University of Louisville Law School. Following service in the Army at Fort Knox, he joined the family law firm of Heiple & Heiple in Washington. In 1959, he opened an office in Pekin, developing a practice in municipal law and as corporation counsel for several municipalities. He also served as an appellate law clerk, a public defender, and a Special Master in Chancery.
In 1970, Justice Heiple won election to fill a vacancy on the Tazewell County Circuit Court and was retained in 1972 and 1978. In 1980, he became a Justice of the Third District Appellate Court. In 1990, Justice Heiple won election to the Third Judicial District seat on the Illinois Supreme Court. Justice Heiple assumed a three-year term as Chief Justice in January 1997, succeeding Justice Michael A. Bilandic. He did not seek retention at the conclusion of his 10-year term in December 2000.
During his career, Heiple served as the Illinois Judges Association president, Tazewell County Bar Association president, held memberships in the Illinois, Kentucky, and federal bar associations, and chaired councils of the Illinois State Bar Association.
The Illinois Supreme Court's statement on Justice Heiple's passing may be found here. Justice Heiple’s memorial website is available at http://www.deitersfuneralhome.com where condolences may be sent to his family.