The Madison County Record Jul. 6, 2015, 3:16pm


Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier has agreed to release four years of electronic messages to lawyers pursuing an $8 billion claim that State Farm corruptly secured his election in 2004.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Williams ratified the agreement on July 2, ordering data firm Accessus to release the emails to data firm Midwest Litigation.

Karmeier and plaintiffs jointly moved for the order after Accessus advised Midwest Litigation that it wouldn’t release emails without one.

The order authorizes “retrieval and search of certain specified e-mail accounts belonging to Justice Karmeier for the period beginning April 1, 2001 and ending December 6, 2004.”

Lead plaintiff Mark Hale of New York State claims State Farm secretly supported Karmeier in order to overturn a billion dollar judgment against it.

In that case, Williamson County jurors found in favor of lead plaintiff Michael Avery on a claim that State Farm supplied inferior parts for crash repairs nationwide.

In 2005, Karmeier and other Justices reversed the judgment.

In 2011, Avery asked the Justices to examine new evidence showing State Farm misrepresented its role in Karmeier’s campaign.

The Justices denied the request.

In 2012, Hale sued State Farm in U. S. district court on behalf of the Avery class.

Hale alleged the insurer misled the Justices in 2005 and 2011.

He named State Farm employee William Shepherd and Illinois Civil Justice League director Ed Murnane as conspirators. He sought triple damages under racketeering law, plus interest from the date of the verdict in 1999.

He initially sued Karmeier’s campaign, but quickly dismissed the claim.

Defendants moved to dismiss the suit, but District Judge David Herndon denied the motion and a motion for reconsideration.

They asked the Seventh Circuit appellate court in Chicago to stop the action, but judges there ruled that it should continue.

Earlier this year, Herndon ruled that Hale could depose Karmeier.

The court record doesn’t show whether that deposition has happened.

Williams must manage electronic discovery at a microscopic level.

At the start of a hearing on July 2, he said he had been given a rehash of a theory for choosing search terms and production formats.

Williams said he needed to decide specific disputes, not general ones, and he abruptly announced a hearing on July 8.

He said one person would speak for each side.

“I will sit and we will do ands and fors,” Williams said.

“Get a hotel room because we might be here really late.

“We are just going to take them one at a time.”

Delaying those disputes left him with enough other disputes to fill two hours.

At one point he asked plaintiff lawyer Robert Clifford of Chicago to explain a request for certain information.

Clifford said they lied about communications between State Farm and Murnane.

“Lawyer ethics are coming here and they are going to be intertwined somehow,” Clifford said.

“They made representations to the Supreme Court that we will show were outright wrong.”

Williams asked if he could rephrase the request for information.

Clifford asked to file a further brief on State Farm’s basis for its representations.

Williams asked for letter briefs in two weeks, and he set a hearing on Aug. 11.

Letter briefs count as discovery, not available to the public.

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