Legendary Chicago defense lawyer dies at 64

Tom Royce built career on big cases
October 6, 2009 3:26:42 PM PDT
Tom Royce was a nice guy in a business populated by bad guys. As one of Chicago's premier criminal defense lawyers, Royce represented some of the city's most notorious criminals in numerous headline cases the past several decades.

Thomas J. Royce Sr, 64, died last weekend after a lengthy illness.

Prior to his death Mr. Royce was a popular and commanding fixture in Chicago's Dirksen Federal Building and at "26th and Cal," lawyer-speak for the Cook County Criminal Courthouse.

He was considered a thoughtful and friendly man, always ready with a joke or two; in a rough and tumble business where few attorneys manage to rise above the criminal circus.

His demeanor made Royce a popular interview for courtroom news reporters and his expertise rendered him a sought-after source and mentor in legal circles. But once the gavel fell and court was called into session, Mr. Royce was always a tough advocate for his clients and considered a sharp adversary for opposing counsel.

Mr. Royce was capable of handling a wide array of criminal cases. In 1983 he represented a wrongly-accused suspect in the infamous Tylenol murder spree. Also in the 1980's Royce was defense lawyer for one of the Chicago Police officers charged in the Marquette 10 corruption case. He represented a Chicago Roman Catholic priest accused of being a serial child molester and most recently handled the successful defense of one defendant in the E-2 nightclub stampede during which 21 people were killed.

Tom Royce was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1971 and was a lifelong resident of Rogers Park. He leaves a wife, 5 children and 9 grandchildren. Visitation is tonight until 9pm at the John E. Maloney Funeral Home, 1359 W. Devon Ave. A Funeral Mass (time to be announced) will occur at St. Margaret Mary Church, 2324 W. Chase Ave. Interment Private. ?


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