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Former Cook County Judge Louis Garippo dies at 84

Wednesday, July 06, 2016
Chicago Tribune
by Bob Goldsborough

Former Cook County Judge Louis Garippo dies at 84

Louis B. Garippo oversaw high-profile murder cases as a prosecutor and as a judge in Cook County before going into private practice.

"He was one of the few judges at (the) 26th Street (criminal courthouse) that Chief Judge Richard Fitzgerald would trust with the big cases because he knew he would decide it correctly," said William J. Kunkle, who led the prosecution of serial killerJohn Wayne Gacyin 1980. "He was a great judge who was very fair, but he knew the law and wanted to give everybody time to say their piece."

Garippo, 84, died of complications from congestive heart failure May 31 in the care center at the Vi at The Glen retirement home in Glenview, said his daughter, Ellen. He had been a resident of Glenview for more than 45 years.

Born in Chicago, Garippo grew up in a politically connected family in the Northwest Side's Galewood neighborhood. His grandfather was onetime State's Attorney Benjamin Adamowski, while his father, Louis P. Garippo, was a longtime Democratic committeeman of the 36th Ward. During Garippo's childhood, his father was the bailiff for a Chicago judge, who often let young Garippo sit next to him while hearing cases.

After graduating from Fenwick High School, Garippo earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1952 and then a law degree fromDePaul UniversityCollege of Law in 1955.

Garippo served two years in the Army before joining the Cook County state's attorney's office in 1958 as an assistant state's attorney assigned to the criminal division. Garippo was promoted to be chief of the office's criminal division in 1964. Then, in 1966, he was named first assistant state's attorney.

Also in 1966, Garippo assisted Cook County prosecutor William J. Martin in the prosecution of Richard Speck, who had murdered eight student nurses in a South Chicago townhouse. Other major cases included the Summerdale scandal in 1961, a result of which was seven Chicago police officers being found guilty of conspiring to commit burglaries while in uniform and on duty.

In 1968, Garippo was elected a Cook County Circuit Court judge. In 1970, Garippo issued a precedent-setting ruling, declaring unconstitutional state laws allowing subpoenas to be issued for journalists and their notes without a court hearing.

Garippo's highest-profile case as a judge was presiding over the five-week trial of Gacy. A jury found Gacy guilty of 33 murders and gave him the death sentence.

"I don't know what this trial cost," Garippo said in court after Gacy's sentencing. "Whatever the cost, it was a small price. … I really feel it's a small price we pay for our freedom. What we do for the John Gacys of this world, we will do for everyone."

During his tenure as a judge, Garippo received the highest rating of any trial judge in surveys administered by the Chicago Bar Association.

Cook County Judge Jim Obbish tried cases before Garippo while a private attorney and later worked in an adjoining office after Garippo had left the bench.

"You became a better lawyer just by being around him," Obbish said. "He sort of unintentionally taught character and law and life and family and everything else by example."

In June 1980, Garippo resigned from the bench after 12 years to go into private practice. "I just enjoy trying cases, and I wanted to get involved with it again," he told the Tribune at the time.

While in private practice, Garippo had some high-profile clients, including Chicago Teamsters leader Daniel Ligurotis, who in 1992 was acquitted of fatally shooting his son.

Chicago lawyer Beth Kaveny recalled Garippo as a mentor when they worked together early in her career.

"He always gave great advice, and you always knew what he told you was the right thing, the ethical thing, and you would feel good about yourself after you made that decision," she said. "He knew the law, and he had the respect of everybody."

Garippo was tapped in 2000 to prepare a report for the University of Illinois' board of trustees on the school's controversial and now-retired sports team symbol, Chief Illiniwek. Garippo's 70-page report, titled "The Chief Illiniwek Dialogue," summarized the main arguments over the mascot but shied away from any conclusions or recommendations. The university administration retired Illiniwek in 2007.

In addition to his daughter, Garippo is survived by his wife of almost 56 years, Colette; another daughter, Mary; a son, Tom; five grandchildren; and a sister, Anna Maria Sciaraffa.

A son, Jim, died in 2001.

Services were held.



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