James D. Heiple
|Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court|
|Howard C. Ryan|
|Judge of the Illinois Court of Appeals|
|Judge of the 10th Circuit Court|
|Born||September 13, 1933|
|Alma mater||University of Louisville School of Law|
University of Virginia School of Law
Born in Peoria, Illinois, Heiple received a B.S. from Bradley University in his hometown. He studied law in Louisville, Kentucky, and received a J.D. from the University of Louisville School of Law in 1957. Heiple later received an LL.M from the University of Virginia School of Law. Heiple also married; two of his sons later also became lawyers.
After admission to Illinois bar, Heiple entered the private practice of law with his father in Tazewell County, Illinois, with offices in Washington and Pekin until 1970. During this period he also worked as an appellate law clerk, a public defender and a special master in chancery, a "partnership in an insurance agency corporation, service as a bank officer, director of two banks and a farm owner and manager".
In 1970, voters elected Heiple to the Illinois Circuit Court. In 1980, he was elected to the Illinois Appellate Court. In 1990, Heiple successfully ran to succeed succeed retiring Illinois Supreme Court Justice Howard C. Ryan, for whom he had previously clerked. In 1994, Heiple issued an opinion in the controversial "Baby Richard Case." In 1996, the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board investigated complaints that Heiple abused his position during several traffic stops and disobeyed police. Some believed the investigation resulted from the public attention drawn by that previous adoption opinion. The formal complaint filed in January 1997 discussed the various traffic stops in Pekin and various western Illinois counties and led to formal censure of then Chief Justice Heiple by the Illinois Supreme Court on April 30, 1997 and his resignation from that post (but not the court) by the end of the week.
It also led on April 14, 1997 to the first judicial impeachment proceedings in Illinois in 145 years, conducted by an investigative panel of ten representatives of the Illinois House of Representatives. Fellow Justice Benjamin K. Miller testified during Heiple's impeachment proceedings that Heiple had failed to let other court members know the seriousness of the Illinois Courts Commission's investigation. The panel voted not to impeach Heiple; he remained on the bench through the end of his term in 2000. Voters elected Democrat Thomas Kilbride to succeed Heiple.