Saturday, October 22, 2016

On the passing of Ed McElroy and George Collins

Ed McElroy, who died recently at the age of 91, was an advisor to a great number of judicial candidates over the years, walking them around, as the phrase goes, introducing them to helpful persons. Some won, some lost, but, from what I was able to observe in the last few years, even those who didn't win were better off, in terms of credibility for future races, than before they'd been taken under his tutelage.

Obviously I did not have any contact with Mr. McElroy when I was running for judge. I didn't even know such people existed. But I met Mr. McElroy a few years back, through Avy Meyers, who always sang McElroy's praises. After that, on those few times I called Mr. McElroy about this candidate or that vacancy, he was quick to return my calls and answer my questions. As a blogger-and-or-amateur-journalist, I can offer no greater praise.

But that's hardly an appropriate sendoff, so I'll link instead to Neil Steinberg's affectionate farewell. In case you missed it.

Ed McElroy was not a lawyer. George Collins, on the other hand, was a lawyer's lawyer, as the Law Bulletin said in it's headline over Patricia Manson's October 17 tribute.

According to Manson's linked article (subscription required), Mr. Collins had an extensive civil and criminal practice, representing "banks, schools, businesses and individuals." But it was his skill in professional disciplinary cases that vaulted Collins to the pinnacle of the profession.

The lawyer or judge in a disciplinary jam was well-advised to seek assistance from Mr. Collins. ARDC Chief Counsel James J. Grogan is quoted in Manson's article as calling Collins a "giant," noting that he "was probably the most prolific" lawyer in terms of the number of ARDC cases he took on. I happened to be talking to Grogan last Monday, before Manson's article came out, and our conversation turned to Collins' passing (I'd not yet heard). While I hadn't contacted Grogan in connection with this blog, I don't believe I'm violating any rules of journalistic etiquette to note that Grogan spoke eloquently of the respect and admiration that he and his colleagues had for Mr. Collins.

Mr. Collins's last trial, according to Manson's article, was before the Courts Commission in February (the Beatriz Santiago trial). He was representing Rhonda Crawford at the time of his death.

An excerpt from Manson's tribute seems the best way to close out this post:
Collins was among the recipients last month of the CBA’s Justice John Paul Stevens Award, which honors Chicago attorneys and judges who have shown the same public service and integrity Stevens showed in his legal career.

In accepting the award, Collins did not talk about himself, his law partners said, but focused his remarks on Stevens.

Friends and colleagues said Collins always focused on others.

Collins fought hard for his clients, but never stepped over the line, [CBA President Daniel M.] Kotin said.

“He was one of the greatest gentlemen that I ever met as a practicing lawyer,” he said.

“If all of us could conduct ourselves and practice law as George did, I think we could have a much more amiable, cooperative, kinder and nicer profession.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would be remiss not to say a few kind words about Ed McElroy. He gave me excellent advice and I credit him for giving me that little extra edge in my own successful subcircuit judicial race. He knew that perception was far more important than reality when it came to elections. Elections were won and lost, he said, way before the first vote was cast. Many times when going to a political event I was so disgusted with the nonsense that awaited before me I could barely get out of my car. Seeing Ed's spotless black Cadillac with his low digit license plate in a parking lot always changed my mood because I knew at least there would be one gentleman at the event not wanting to grab my check then knife me between the shoulder blades.

The last time I saw and spoke to Ed was several months ago. We had lunch together at a restaurant on south Harlem Avenue. He had a chicken salad sandwich with a cold glass of white milk. He was as sharp as a razor and well dressed as usual. He always reminded me of my own grandfather, who passed away many years ago, and who's death I never really got over. Ed possessed an honesty and dignity that is sadly lacking in most people today. It was his generation. I did not think that would be the last time I would ever see him.

Out of all the people that boldly and loudly take credit for "helping" me get over the goal line; he was the only one that I wanted to save a seat for this coming December 5th. The last thing he said to me went something like this: "You know Kid, you are soon going to be working with a group of snakes; a few of them are o/k, but most of them are snakes, so watch your backside." Ed was right about most things he said, and I'm sure that was no exception. Thank you, Ed. Godspeed.