Attorneys Stephen Tillery, Robert Clifford, and associates went too far last fall when they financed a scurrilous television ad campaign to try to prevent the retention of State Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier in the November election.
Decent people were appalled by the unfounded accusations and underhanded tactics, with the result that Tillery, Clifford, et al. succeeded only in further sullying their own reputations.
Now Clifford has overstepped himself once again in his anti-Karmeier crusade and is likely to regret his rashness, if he has enough sense and self-awareness to do so.
Why do Clifford and Tillery hate Karmeier so? They see him as the man most responsible for depriving them of a portion of two gigantic class action suits. Years ago, Karmeier participated in decisions overturning a $1 billion judgment against State Farm and $10 billion judgment against Philip Morris.
For men who like money as much as Clifford and Tillery do, those decisions overturning potential billion-dollar bonanzas generated grievances that grew into grudges.
Having originated 18 years ago, Avery v. State Farm has now morphed into Hale v. State Farm, a RICO case that seems to have no other purpose than to embarrass and harass Justice Karmeier.
Not content with defaming the judge who junked their possible jackpot, Clifford and his clients have now taken to questioning the integrity of members of the State Bar Association – a tactic that does not sit well with the group.
Last month, the Bar responded forcefully to Clifford's federal court brief accusing its judicial evaluation committee of bias toward Karmeier in 2004.
Bar representative Michael Nester of Belleville charged that “Plaintiffs’ fantastical position insults the intelligence of this court and irresponsibly defames the reputations” of former committee members April Troemper and Stanley Tucker.
What Robert Clifford hoped to gain from this attack is unclear. What he has gained is the enmity of a group representing ten of thousands of lawyers who don’t like to have their integrity challenged without proof for what appears to be self-serving reasons.