On the Record With ... George Lindberg
Retired Senior Judge George Lindberg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois did a lot in his more than 34 years on the bench.
The lifelong Crystal Lake resident met his wife of more than 48 years and made stops in the Illinois House, Illinois Comptroller’s Office, Illinois Attorney General’s Office and Illinois Appellate Court’s Second District.
Lindberg’s love for all that is political and criminal came after he earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and biological science while attending law school at Northwestern in the mid-1950s.
A summer job landed him at John E. Reid & Associates Inc. in Chicago, where Lindberg became fascinated with criminal interrogation techniques, in particular the polygraph.
He later traveled around the world as a specialist introducing the polygraph to authorities before moving into the political realm, representing McHenry and Lake counties in the Statehouse for three terms.
Next came a stint as comptroller, which at the time was the first new elective office in Illinois in 100 years.
Then he served as the state’s deputy attorney general before being elected to the Illinois Appellate Court.
The 80-year-old recently spoke with reporter Lawerence Synett about his long career, accomplishments and love of the polygraph.
Synett: What got you interested in politics and criminal law?
Lindberg: While I was a polygraph examiner in the mid-1960s, we did some lobbying down in Springfield. I thought it was all very interesting and decided I would run for the House of Representatives. In those days, we had cumulative voting and candidates would push for the bullet vote. Even though I was from the minority county, I won by focusing on that.
Synett: Why the polygraph?
Lindberg: I was intrigued. When I got the summer job in 1955 at John E. Reid & Associates, it was the most exciting time of my life. I got to work on things like the Our Lady of Angels School fire in 1958 and the murder of Valerie Percy in 1966.
It was such a unique experience. The people I met and the discipline I learned prepared me for the future.
Synett: How would you sum up your time in the House of Representatives?
Lindberg: The most satisfying was the Constitutional Convention of 1969, when I was asked to speak on several issues I thought strongly about. I was the chief sponsor of the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act, which requires annual disclosure of economic interests by public officials and candidates for office. I also chaired a committee to investigate the judiciary.
Synett: What then piqued your interest in becoming the state comptroller?
Lindberg: At that time, the position replaced the auditor of public accounts, and the mandate was to bring Illinois’ financial process into the modern age.
We were able to come up with a monetary fiscal model for Illinois that predicted 18 months out what the position of the state would be.
I’ll never forget when then-Gov. Dan Walker proposed a billion-dollar bond issue to pay for day-to-day expenses. We were able to show them the effect it would have, and the program was killed.
Synett: Next came two years as deputy attorney general then the Illinois Appellate Court – what was that like?
Lindberg: Being assistant attorney general gave me an opportunity to argue in front of the Supreme Court on public aid issues. It was a thrill.
The appellate court in Elgin allowed me to work close to home, which was very convenient.
Through the good offices of the late Henry Hyde, my name was suggested to President George H.W. Bush, and he nominated me for federal court.
The Lindberg lowdown
Who is he? Retired judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
Family? Married for more than 48 years; two daughters and three granddaughters
Grew up in? Lifelong Crystal Lake resident
Did what in college? Learned about the polygraph while studying criminal law
Nickname while on the bench? “Mr. Ethics”
Favorite thing to do while retired? Read the newspaper