Contributors Try To Drive Out Uncontested Illinois Supreme Court Justice

Oct 29, 2014

There's only one Illinois Supreme Court Justice on the ballot this November. Some high-dollar contributors are hoping they can remove him from office--which has never happened before.

Lloyd A. Karmeier

Justice Lloyd Karmeier fought hard to get on the state's high court a decade ago. Business interests that want to make it harder to win big money in lawsuits helped get him there.

This time, Karmeier has no opponent. He needs 60-percent of voters in Illinois' southernmost counties to vote "yes" to retain his spot.

Trial attorneys contributed nearly two million dollars this month toward an effort to unseat him. Some of them stand to gain hefty payoffs if cases before the high court go their way.

Ads accuse Karmeier of letting corporations buy justice. The ads point to a pair of cases in which Karmeier ruled in favor of companies that donated to his 2004 campaign.

Karmeier's campaign manager, Ron Deerick, says the judge is ethical, and didn't need to recuse himself. Deedrick says the opposition may have another motive.

"If he is retained, they will then turn around after the election and after he's sworn in for a new term for ten years, and make the same argument. he is unfit to sit on the bench regarding these two cases."

The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform's David Melton says it's all troubling.

"We feared that money would increasingly play a prominent role in judicial elections.”

Melton says it breeds distrust, and could put pressure on judges' rulings.

Watchdog groups say they're worried about the money flowing into judicial races. The Illinois State Bar Association recommends Karmeier be retained.