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Portrait of Judge Campbell

Judge William J. Campbell

Hon. William J. Campbell of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois retired as Chief Judge on March 19, 1970. To honor Judge Campbell and to commemorate his many distinguished years of service as Chief Judge, a ceremony was held on February 27, 1970, and the Library of the United States Courts was named "The William J. Campbell Library of the United States Courts." This was a particularly fitting tribute as Judge Campbell was the leading proponent of the 1964 merger of the then separate libraries of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

William J. Campbell was born on March 19, 1905 in Chicago, and was a graduate of St. Rita High School. He received an LL.B. degree from Loyola University in 1926 and an LL.M. from the same school in 1928. Admitted to the Illinois Bar, he practiced law in Chicago from 1927 to 1938 as a private practitioner with the Chicago firm of Campbell and Burns.

Judge Campbell was designated United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1938. Two years later, at the age of 35, he was appointed by President Roosevelt to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. From 1959 until 1970 when he took senior status, he served as Chief Judge of the district. During that period, Judge Campbell succeeded in getting Congress to approve and fund the construction of two federal buildings in Chicago. He oversaw construction of the Dirksen Federal Building, and was directly responsible for the building of Chicago's Metropolitan Correctional Center, which was named for him. In 1965, Judge Campbell was instrumental in creating the Federal Defender Program in Chicago. That innovation became a prototype for similar programs throughout the country.

Judge Campbell was the first District Judge Representative of the Seventh Circuit on the Judicial Conference of the United States, an assignment he held from 1958 until 1962. As the first Chairman of the Judicial Conference Committee on the Budget, serving from 1960 to 1970, he was instrumental in doubling the budget for the federal courts. He was also a member of the Judicial Conference Committee on Pretrial and Protracted Case Procedures from 1941 to 1960, during which time he authored the first Manual on Protracted Case Procedures. His work on that committee helped create the Federal Judicial Center. For fifteen years, until November 1985, as Assistant Director of the Center and Chairman of its Committee on Judicial Education, Judge Campbell directed and presided over the Center's seminars for new judges. He also chaired many sentencing institutes and judicial workshops in spite of the fact that he was required to participate from a wheelchair in later years.

Commenting on Judge Campbell's devotion and service to the federal judiciary, Chief Justice Warren Burger praised him for "the countless tasks willingly assumed and the exceptional measure of vigor, dedication and accomplishment in the improvement of the Federal Judicial System."

Among many honors accorded Judge Campbell are degrees from Loyola University (LL.D. 1955); Lincoln College (LL.D. 1960); Duquesne College (Litt.D., 1965); and Barat College (J.C.D. 1966). He was named Chicagoan of the Year in 1965 and Lincoln Laureate in Law in 1970. In 1986, he received the prestigious Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award for having, in the words of the Award, "earned a reputation as an imaginative, innovative, courageous and practical jurist."

Judge Campbell died on October 19, 1988, two days before the forty-eighth anniversary of his appointment to the federal bench.

641 F. Supp. LXI: Devitt Award, photo on page 14
761 F. Supp. LXIII: in memoriam, photo on page LXVII

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