Illinois State Bar Association members may have to stop evaluating judicial candidates if a judge orders them to reveal their deliberations, the Bar warns in federal court.
On Dec. 1, the Bar asked Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams to quash deposition notices and a subpoena that plaintiffs suing State Farm served on evaluation committee members from 2004.
Committee rules specify that members shall keep all information confidential, Michael Nester of Belleville wrote for the Bar.
“Being compelled to produce the documents and information requested in the subpoena would destroy the confidentiality of this information, undermine the efficacy and integrity of the evaluation process, and likely lead to the abandonment or termination of judicial evaluations by the ISBA altogether,” he wrote.
Lead plaintiff Mark Hale of New York State claims State Farm corrupted the Illinois Supreme Court and the Bar in 2004, for the benefit of Supreme Court candidate Lloyd Karmeier.
Hale seeks to recover a billion dollar judgment that the Supreme Court reversed in 2005, with interest and triple damages under racketeering law.
Along with State Farm he sued Illinois Civil Justice League director Ed Murnane and State Farm employee William Shepherd.
Hale didn’t sue the Bar, as Michael Nester of Belleville noted in his motion to quash.
“Every member participating in the evaluation of a candidate or judge signs an oath of confidentiality not to disclose any information received from any person or source during the course of the investigation and hearing,” he wrote.
“People who supply information to the judicial evaluation committee are assured that the information is confidential,” he wrote.
Williams manages discovery for District Judge David Herndon, who presides over the case.
They must measure their authority not only over the Bar but over Karmeier himself.
On Nov. 7, Hale served notice of intent to depose Karmeier in Williams’s court on Dec. 3.
On Nov. 24, Courtney Cox of St. Louis moved to quash the notice.
“According to the U.S. Supreme Court, an examination of a judicial decision maker would be permitted only with a strong showing of bad faith or improper behavior,” he wrote.
The motion remained pending on Dec. 3, and no one showed up in court.
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