Opponents of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier opened a television campaign last week to accuse him of selling justice.
A group calling itself Campaign for 2016 ran spots opposing Karmeier’s retention on Channel 12 in Cape Girardeau, Mo., and Channel 6 in Paducah, Ky. last weekend.
The group alleges that Karmeier voted to reverse judgments against State Farm and Philip Morris after they supported his campaign in 2004.
The group registered with the Illinois election board today, reporting $300,020 in available funds without identifying sources of the funds.
Election board press officer Jim Tenuto said the group must report contributions of $1,000 or more within two business days after the TV stations have deposited the group’s checks.
He said the group can report smaller contributions on its quarterly statement in January.
As of noon Monday, the board’s website showed a statement of organization but did not show any contributions over $1,000.
Barzin Emami of Chicago filed the statement of organization as chairman.
In 2012, he managed the campaign of current Fifth District appellate court judge Judy Cates.
The statement identified Terry Woelfel as treasurer.
He ran for sheriff of Calhoun County in 2010, and lost.
Karmeier won his Supreme Court seat in a close contest against Gordon Maag of Edwardsville, a Fifth District appellate judge at the time.
In 2005, Karmeier participated in decisions that overturned class action judgments of about $10 billion in Price v. Philip Morris, and about $1 billion in Avery v. State Farm.
Nine years later, both cases remain alive.
Fifth District judges reinstated the Philip Morris judgment this year, finding the Justices would have affirmed it if they had seen evidence that came to light later.
When Philip Morris petitioned the Supreme Court for review, plaintiff counsel Stephen Tillery of St. Louis moved for Karmeier to recuse himself or for the other Justices to disqualify him.
Karmeier denied the motion.
He offered his colleagues an opportunity to review his decision, although no rule provided for that, and none of them called for disqualification.
The Court has granted Philip Morris leave to appeal and will schedule oral argument.
In the State Farm case, lead plaintiff Mark Hale pursues a racketeering suit before Chief U.S. District Judge David Herndon in East St. Louis.
Hale seeks to recover the judgment with interest and triple damages.
The double revival has caused the cases to collide, because both plaintiffs allege indirect corruption of Karmeier through third parties like the U. S. Chamber of Commerce.
For the moment, the same dollars that count as evidence against Philip Morris in the Supreme Court count as evidence against State Farm in Herndon’s court.
(Editor's note: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform owns the Madison-St. Clair Record newspaper).
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