Illinois court asked to review alleged bias by justice
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH Political Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org September 14, 2011 9:02PM
Updated: November 10, 2011 10:26AM
Some Tennessee lawyers, including former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, are asking the Supreme Court of Illinois to take a new look at whether one of its own was too biased to rule in a 2005 case that overturned a billion-dollar verdict against State Farm Insurance.
The state supreme court considered and rejected the argument that Judge Lloyd Karmeier was biased because of the $4.5 million he raised in his campaign, about $350,000 came from people linked to State Farm. The U.S. Supreme Court likewise declined to take an appeal based on that argument.
What’s different now?
Research from a former FBI agent shows State Farm raised $2.4 million to $4 million of Karmeier’s $4.5 million budget, according to the petition the attorneys have filed with the state supreme court on behalf of State Farm customers.
“State Farm lawyer and lobbyist William G. (“Bill”) Shepherd was on the Executive Committee of the Illinois Civil Justice League that recruited Justice Karmeier to run for the seat,” the suit states.
“State Farm deliberately lied to and misled the Court,” the suit states.
Though oral arguments had already been made in the case when Karmeier won the hotly contested race for Surpeme Court, he declined requests to recuse himself from ruling on the case.
His vote made the difference in key parts of the case, the suit states.
The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that a West Virginia supreme court judge should not have ruled in a case involving a coal-mining company that raised the lion’s share of his campaign’s budget. But it did not take the case against Karmeier.
An Illinois Supreme Court spokesman said the court does not discuss cases pending before it.