People have argued for years about the right answer to that poser. Here's another: Which comes first, the trial or the decision?
Maybe what follows can help you answer.
Attorneys Stephen Tillery and Robert Clifford, professional plaintiff Mark Hale, and other sore losers have tried for years to avenge themselves on state Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier for his participation in decisions overturning Clifford's $1 billion judgment against State Farm and Tillery's $10 billion judgment against Philip Morris.
U.S. District Judge David Herndon has given the plaintiffs one more chance to repossess lost booty by denying summary judgment to State Farm in the $9 billion class-action racketeering suit they filed – and Herndon certified – in 2012, claiming that the insurance company secretly funneled money to Karmeier's 2004 campaign for the supreme court in hopes of having the $1 billion judgment against it thrown out, as it was in 2005.
Of course, district judges have no authority to reconsider decisions of our state Supreme Court, but this is an entirely separate legal action. At least, that's what lead plaintiff Mark Hale insists and Herndon himself affirms.
In this entirely separate legal action, however, Hale seeks to recover the lost Avery judgment, triple it with interest, and triple that total for punitive purposes. Hmm.
In denying summary judgment to State Farm, Herndon acknowledged what he could not deny: that he has no authority to reconsider the Avery decision. Instead, he embraced Hale's argument that the present proceedings are an entirely separate legal action.
“Specifically, what plaintiffs allege . . . is that a judgment was rendered in the Illinois Supreme Court but that process was tainted by politics depriving plaintiffs of the opportunity for due process and a fair hearing,” he wrote.
“In essence, plaintiffs are asserting claims for an independent legal wrong which is the illegal acts or omissions of defendants,” he continued.
“Simply, defendants’ actions in the two cases are entirely different and [plaintiffs] do not seek redress from the same wrong.”
If you say so, Judge.