The Champaign County community lost one of its foremost citizens.
The late Circuit Judge Harold Jensen was a jurist straight out of central casting — an imposing figure who, at the same time, was calm, even-tempered and good-humored.
He not only maintained a healthy respect for the litigants who appeared before him but, unlike some judges who become full of themselves, realized how important the position he held is in the public eye.
That’s why he conducted himself — both on and off the bench — in a way that reflected well on him as a person and the judiciary as an institution.
Before there was a Judge Jensen, there was the local lawyer and citizen who served on the Urbana School Board and contributed to the community’s welfare. After he retired, Jensen continued his civic interests by leading the campaign to raise more than $1 million needed to rebuild the courthouse tower and refurbish its clock.
Indeed, there are so many good things one could say about Jensen as an individual, lawyer and judge that one hardly knows where to begin.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of his personality was his ability to maintain decorum in his courtroom.
Lawyers can sometimes get a little too feisty. They rarely did in Jensen’s courtroom. He was the most polite person in the room while leading with a strong hand. When, on rare occasions, lawyers did act out or continued to embrace losing arguments, he would get them back in line by raising his eyebrows in a way that sent an unmistakable signal to knock it off.
It’s no accident that several of Champaign County’s judges recalled that they modeled their courtroom demeanor on Jensen’s example.
What greater tribute can there be to this good man and good judge?