Lloyd A. Karmeier
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Early life and education
Karmeier was born on January 12, 1940 in Washington County, Illinois. After graduating as valedictorian from Okawville Community High School in 1958,  Karmeier received bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Illinois in 1962 and 1964 respectively.
Karmeier clerked for former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Byron O. House from 1964 to 1968, served as state’s attorney of Washington County from 1968 to 1972, and clerked for former US District Court Judge James L. Foreman from 1972 to 1973.
He was engaged in the general practice of law with the firm of Hohlt, House, DeMoss & Johnson from 1964 to 1986. He was resident Circuit Judge of Washington County from 1986 to 2004, when he was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court.
He became the justice for the Fifth District on the Illinois Supreme Court. A Republican, he was elected to his current position in a highly contested election against Democrat Gordon Maag in 2004.
Karmeier is a member of the Illinois Judges' Association; the Washington County, St. Clair County, East St. Louis and Illinois State Bar Associations; and past member of the American Bar Association and the American Judicature Society. He served as a member of the Assembly of the Illinois State Bar Association from 1996 to 2002, and as chair of the Bench and Bar Section Council. He also served on the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases, chairing the committee from 2003 to 2004. He is a member of the Southern Illinois American Inn of Court and served as President of the Executive Committee from 2003 to 2007.
Awards and contributions
- 2006: Citizen of the Year, Nashville, Illinois
- 2010: Harold Sullivan Award for Judicial Excellence, Illinois Judges Association
- 2015: The Joseph Bartylak Award from the Lawyer’s Assistance Program
- 2016: Chicago Lawyer Magazine’s Person of the Year
An article about this appointment as Chief Justice in Illinois Lawyer Now wrote, “Throughout his tenure on the Supreme Court, Justice Karmeier has made frequent appearances before school, civic, and professional organizations to speak about the court’s work. He regularly lectures at continuing legal education programs and contributes articles to the ISBA Bench and Bar Section Council Newsletter.”
Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court
Karmeier became 120th chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court on October 31, 2016, and was sworn in by Rita Garman, who herself had served as chief justice. According to Herald and Review, "In his position, which he’ll fill for three years after being elected by his fellow justices on the seven-member court, Karmeier will serve as the top administrator for Illinois’ judicial system, which includes more than 900 judges." According to Illinois Lawyer Now, "Among other duties, the Chief Justice controls and schedules the Supreme Court's agenda for consideration in conference by the Court during its five formal terms each year, supervises all appointments to Supreme Court committees, serves as chairperson of the Executive Committee of the constitutionally-mandated Illinois Judicial Conference and presents the Court’s annual budget request to the General Assembly." His term as chief justice will end October 25, 2019.
State Farm Insurance appeal
During his candidacy for the office of judge in Illinois, Karmeier managed to raise $4.8 million for his election campaign. This included a direct contribution of $350,000 from the State Farm Insurance group. Other affiliates of State Farm Insurance also paid for Karmeier's campaign. Around that time State Farm policyholders had won $1 billion against State Farm in Avery v. State Farm, and had prevailed at the intermediate appellate court. The appeal against the damages and award was pending before the Illinois Supreme Court. When Karmeier was elected, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper published an editorial, "Big business won a nice return on a $4.3 million investment ... It now has a friendly justice". Despite opposition, Karmeier refused to dissociate himself from the case, and the appeal was decided in favor of State Farm Insurance by a majority of 4-2, with Karmeier in the majority. $600 million of punitive damages as well as the award of $457 million against State Farm were reversed.
In 2014, Karmeier was up for a retention vote. A political group of trial lawyers funded a last-minute, $2 million advertising campaign in an unsuccessful effort to unseat him.
Karmeier addressed the controversies in a 2014 filing in the Philip Morris case, in which he wrote, "When I ran for this office a decade ago, I made only one promise. It was a promise to the People of Illinois and the voters of the Fifth Judicial District that if elected, I would decide every case free of outside influence and based solely on the law and the facts. I have honored that pledge."
- "Lloyd A. Karmeier, Supreme Court Justice: Fifth District". IllinoisCourts.gov. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
- "Karmeier sworn in as Illinois Supreme Court chief justice". SFGate.com. Hearst. Associated Press. October 31, 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- Petrella, Dan (2016-11-01). "Karmeier now Illinois chief judge". Herald-Review.com. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
- "Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier". www.illinoiscourts.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
- "Lloyd Karmeier". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
- Bonjean, Chris (2016-09-19). "Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier elected as next Chief Justice of Illinois Supreme Court | Illinois Lawyer Now". Illinois Lawyer Now. Illinois State Bar Association. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
- Schotland, Roy A. (2007), Transparency International, ed., "Global Corruption Report 2007: Corruption in Judicial Systems", Judicial Elections in the United States, Cambridge University Press, pp. 27–28
- Michael Avery et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Docket No. 91494, (Illinois Supreme Court, 2005
- Mackey, Brian (23 January 2015). "Supreme Tort: The campaign to fire Justice Lloyd Karmeier". Illinois Public Media News. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
- "Lloyd A. Karmeier, Supreme Court Justice: Fifth District". IllinoisCourts.gov.