The Madison County Record Dec. 10, 2014, 7:16am

Chicago lawyer Robert Clifford, who spent $150,000 against the retention of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier, promises courtesy toward Karmeier if he gets a chance to depose him for a suit against State Farm.

Clifford offered the promise to U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams on Dec. 5, in opposing a motion from Karmeier to block or limit any deposition.

He wrote that he would not invade Karmeier’s thoughts and deliberations in Michael Avery v. State Farm, a class action that the Supreme Court decided in State Farm’s favor.

“Plaintiffs are mindful of Justice Karmeier’s position and will extend appropriate courtesies when scheduling and taking his deposition,” Clifford wrote.

The rest of his brief nevertheless echoed insults that Clifford and other lawyers hurled at Karmeier in their unsuccessful campaign to deny his retention last month.

Clifford wrote that State Farm’s undisclosed participation in Karmeier’s campaign of 2004 denied an impartial forum to the Avery class.

“Plaintiffs, to prevail, need not prove that Justice Karmeier and State Farm had a quid pro quo agreement in the Avery case,” Clifford wrote.

“Because conspiracies, by their very nature, are not often susceptible to direct proof, a civil conspiracy plaintiff need not show an express agreement.

“The conspiracy may be proved from circumstantial evidence and inferences drawn from the evidence, coupled with common sense knowledge of the behavior of persons in similar circumstances.
“Here, an agreement between State Farm and Justice Karmeier can be inferred.

“Hence, plaintiffs submit that Justice Karmeier’s participation in Avery tainted the entire proceeding.

“Plaintiffs will not ask Justice Karmeier to testify about his official acts, and Justice Karmeier cites no law excusing him from being deposed about his unofficial acts.”

Karmeier’s counsel, Courtney Cox of St. Louis, replied five days later that plaintiffs presented no support for their “defamatory and outrageous allegations.”

“They apparently expect they will convince others of their wholly unsubstantiated allegations by repeating them often and more and more loudly,” Cox wrote.

He wrote that if they had found support for their allegations in a deposition of State Senator David Luechtefeld, they surely would have cited his testimony to the court.

Former Avery class member Mark Hale sued State Farm, Ed Murnane of Illinois Civil Justice League, and State Farm employee William Shepherd in 2012.

Hale claims State Farm supported Karmeier in 2004, in order to overturn a $1 billion judgment that Williamson County associate judge John Speroni entered for Avery in 1999.

A jury upheld Avery’s claim that State Farm supplied inferior parts for crash repairs.

Hale alleges that at the Supreme Court, State Farm concealed the extent of its involvement in Karmeier’s campaign.

He alleges that State Farm did the same when Avery sought a new hearing in 2011.

He seeks to recover the judgment with interest and triple damages under the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, about $8 billion in all.

Last year his lawyers expressed an intention to depose Karmeier, but earlier this year they told Williams they would wait until after the Nov. 4 election.

On Nov. 7, they served Karmeier with notice of intent to serve a subpoena for a deposition.

Cox moved to quash the subpoena on Nov. 24.

“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,” Cox wrote.

He wrote that the interest at stake was not only Karmeier’s but also that of other Supreme Court Justices who might be subject to future attempts to depose them.

Williams manages discovery for District Judge David Herndon, who presides over the case.

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