Lawyers Tried to Defeat Judge, Now They Seek to Depose Him

Lawyers who contributed thousands of dollars for an unsuccessful effort to deny retention to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier now are trying to depose him in the context of a racketeering lawsuit. Justice Karmeier says they don’t have the authority to question him under oath.

The Madison-St. Clair (Il.) Record provided that update in the wake of Justice Karmeier’s Election Day retention victory, after a group funded heavily by plaintiffs lawyers spent more than $1.1 million to oppose his retention.

The racketeering lawsuit contends that State Farm, the insurance company, funded a multimillion-dollar campaign a decade ago to elect Karmeier to the Supreme Court. The lawsuit is called Hale v. State Farm.

After his successful election bid in 2004, Justice Karmeier later refused to recuse himself from hearing an appeal in a class-action lawsuit, Avery v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co., despite questions raised that 2004 campaign backing from State Farm could taint his impartiality. Justice Karmeier voted in the majority to overturn a $1 billion award against the insurer.

The Illinois Supreme Court denied a petition asking it to reconsider the case in 2011. Subsequently, the litigation was revived as a racketeering case in Hale v. State Farm. For further background, see Gavel Grab.