George N. Leighton laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with Full Military Honors

Updated: Feb 12, 2019

The Honorable George N. Leighton (ret.) – (1912-2018) - George N. Leighton was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors. Leighton had only an eighth-grade education, but was accepted into Howard University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa. He interrupted his education for World War 2 service and then graduated from Harvard Law School. Leighton had a distinguished career as a civil rights attorney. He then served as judge of the Circuit Court of Cook County, then became the first African-American Appellate Court Justice in Illinois. In 1975 Leighton was appointed to the federal bench by President Gerald R. Ford. He served as a Federal District Judge on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois until his retirement in 1987. Leighton joined the law firm of Earl Neal & Associates the predecessor to Neal & Leroy, where he practiced until his retirement at the age of 99 in 2012. The highlights of Leighton’s remarkable career include his successful representation in 1951 of Harvey Clark, an African-American who attempted to move into an apartment in segregated Cicero, IL. Leighton was arrested for inciting a riot by his representation of the Clarks and was successfully defended by Thurgood Marshall. In 2012, the Cook County Criminal Courts Building at 26th and California Streets in Chicago was renamed “The George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse”.

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