P. Scott Neville Jr.
P. Scott Neville Jr.

Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. has likely secured a 10-year term on the Illinois Supreme Court, edging out six other candidates in last week’s primary election, according to unofficial election results.

Since there are no Republicans running in November for the vacancy created by the retirement of late Justice Charles E. Freeman, Neville is the presumptive winner of the 1st District seat.

According to unofficial results, Neville pulled-in about 25.4% of the vote, or 188,218 votes.

First District Appellate Justice Jesse G. Reyes placed second, with 20.85% of the vote, or 154,505 votes, according to unofficial results.

Freeman, who died earlier this month at age 86, broke the color line on the Illinois Supreme Court when he was elected to the bench in 1990.

Neville, 71, has served on the high court since June 2018 when he was appointed to fill Freeman’s seat.

“It took the [s]tate of Illinois 172 years to elect a person of color to its Supreme Court, and with my nomination, Illinois will continue to have an African American on its highest court. I applaud Cook County’s voters because your votes indicate that you are committed to diversity. Illinois’ population is diverse, and our courts, at all levels, should reflect our diversity,” Neville wrote in a statement.

Reyes conceded and congratulated Neville in a post on social media on March 18.

“While we were in striking distance and did not get the result we hoped for, we broke barriers and ran a campaign that we can all be proud of. That, in itself, was a victory for all of us. I want you to know that it was worth every minute and I will continue to strive for fairness and justice in the legal system,” Reyes wrote in the statement.

Reyes, who would have been the high court’s first Latino justice, will continue to serve on the appellate court.

Four additional appellate court justices were vying for the seat — Justices Sheldon A. Harris, Cynthia Y. Cobbs, Nathaniel R. Howse Jr., and Margaret Stanton McBride. Former Jenner & Block LLP attorney Daniel Epstein was also among the contenders in last week’s primary.

Harris received about 15.6% of the vote, Cobbs earned about 12.6% and Stanton McBride procured roughly 12.3%.

“I can tell you the state is going to benefit from [Neville] being there,” said Charles Neville, who is the justice’s younger brother and was the chair of his campaign, in an interview. “He worked hard for it and he deserves it.”

Neville grew up on the South side of Chicago and graduated from Chicago Public Schools. He earned his law degree in 1973 from Washington University in St. Louis.

He practiced as a lawyer for about 25 years before he was appointed to the Cook County Circuit Court in 1999. He was elected to the bench in 2000.

Neville was appointed in June 2004 to the 1st District Appellate Court and was elected to the appellate court in 2012.

He is a past chairperson and board member of the Illinois Judicial Council, a member of the Illinois Judges Association and former president of the Cook County Bar Association.

“He’s got a lot of responsibility over the next 10 years, and we will certainly support him, however, we can,” Charles Neville said.