Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier has filed candidacy papers with the Illinois Secretary of State’s office to seek another 10-year term in November.
While judges seeking retention had until Sunday to file declarations of judicial candidacy, Karmeier submitted his paperwork on April 7, according to an employee at the Secretary of State Index Office.
Once the Secretary of State's office certifies the filings, the information is posted online at the Illinois State Board of Elections website.
Karmeier’s retention campaign will take place in the Fifth Judicial District – comprised of the state’s 37 southern-most counties – and is likely to be the most closely watched judicial race in Illinois this year.
He is the only justice on the state high court up for retention in the upcoming election.
To win retention, a candidate must receive 60 percent of the electorate’s support. Voters will be asked whether he should be retained – “yes” or “no.”
Karmeier, a Republican, was first elected in 2004 following a hotly contested campaign. He defeated Democrat Gordon Maag, who had been serving as an appellate court justice. Maag simultaneously ran for retention to the Fifth District, but lost that race as well.
More than $9 million was spent in the Karmeier-Maag race in 2004, which at the time set a record for spending on judicial campaigns.
Donations received by Karmeier’s campaign were largely derived from business, insurance and medical industry interests. Maag’s campaign was largely funded by trial lawyers.
During his tenure, Karmeier voted in the majority in two high impact decisions that curbed class action lawsuits – Price v. Philip Morris and Avery v. State Farm.
In the Price decision, justices in 2005 reversed a $10.1 billion Madison County bench verdict involving the marketing of “light” and “low tar” cigarettes. The case was revived just last week by the Fifth District Appellate Court.
In the Avery ruling, justices in 2006 overturned a $1 billion Williamson County judgment in a case involving allegations that State Farm processed auto insurance claims by replacing broken car parts with inferior ones.
The Avery case was resurrected as a RICO action in 2012, with the plaintiffs arguing in the new Hale v. State Farm that Karmeier was out of line when he did not recuse himself from the case because State Farm was a campaign contributor.
Plaintiffs have succeeded in getting a discovery order in Hale, which is playing out in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. Lawyers for the plaintiffs have signaled they will seek Karmeier’s deposition, which if allowed, would likely occur in the summer.