Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Judge Harlington Wood, Jr. R. I. P.

I just received word that Judge Harlington Wood, Jr. died yesterday afternoon in Petersburg, Illinois. It is a tragic loss to all knew him and whose lives were touched by his. Prayers for his wife Cathryn, his daughter Alexis, and his two grandchildren.

Update: Article "Judge Wood Gave Everyone a Fair Shake" and obituary at The State Journal-Register.

A video clip of a 1994 interview is available here. Below is a brief biography prepared for the 2003 American Inns of Court award:

Judge Harlington Wood, Jr. graduated from the University of Illinois in 1942, and entered its School of Law. His legal education was interrupted for service in the United States Army, where he rose to the grade of Major and served in the European and Asiatic Theaters. Upon his return from the service, he returned to law school and received his J.D. Degree in 1948 and entered private practice with the firm of Wood & Wood in Springfield, Illinois.

In 1958, he was appointed by President Eisenhower as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, and served until returning to private practice in 1961. In 1969, he became Executive Head of the U.S. Attorneys; United States Department of Justice in Washington, DC, and in 1970 was named Associate Deputy Attorney General for the Department of Justice. In 1972, he was appointed by President Nixon to be the Assistant Attorney General in Charge of the Civil Division. In 1973, President Nixon appointed him U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Illinois, where he served until 1976 when he accepted the appointment of President Gerald Ford to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

Professionally, Judge Wood is most well known for his involvement while serving in the Department of Justice in two separate Native American stand-offs: the first at Alcatraz Island, in San Francisco Bay, from 1969 through the summer of 1971, and the second in 1973 at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. But his accomplishments and impact as both jurist and statesman include participation in much of the recent dramatic history of the world, which he has circled three times, and include Russia, Outer Mongolia, Europe, Cambodia, Greenland, China, Japan and South America.

Judge Wood is a true native of the Land of Lincoln, and is in fact, one of the country’s most outstanding authorities on the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. He is a former member of the cast of “Forever This Land” at Lincoln’s New Salem State Park, member and former president of the Abraham Lincoln Association, and former chairman of the Lincoln Legals Project.

I am so glad that he lived to see Barack Obama elected President. I can think of none other than Judge Wood, stalwart Republican and Abraham Lincoln scholar, who could have better appreciated the difficult course Obama has set for himself.

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