SPRINGFIELD – Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier will be the next chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.
He was unanimously elected to the office by his fellow justices and will serve a three-year term beginning Oct. 26, succeeding Rita B. Garman whose tenure as chief justice will end Oct. 25.
“I appreciate the confidence shown by the other members of the court in electing me to this position,” said Karmeier in a statement. “Since joining the court in 2004, I have had the privilege of serving under five different chief justices, all of whom have done an outstanding job. I will do my very best to live up to the high standard they have set.”
Karmeier was retained to a second 10-year term in 2014 by voters in the Fifth Judicial District, which encompasses the state’s 37 southern-most counties.
Today’s Supreme Court announcement of Karmeier to serve as chief justice comes on the heels of a federal court class certification order entered by District Judge David Herndon on Friday in a high stakes racketeering case against State Farm and others, involving the election of Karmeier in 2004.
Plaintiffs in Hale v. State Farm seek to restore the $1 billion Avery judgment, claiming defendants conspired to elect Karmeier to the Supreme Court to secure a sympathetic vote overturning Avery.
An installation ceremony for Karmeier will be held at the Supreme Court Building in Springfield on Oct. 31. Garman will administer the oath of office.
According to the release from the Supreme Court, Karmeier indicated he would continue the court’s ongoing initiatives to expand access to justice and adopt a statewide system for electronic filing.
“We have made great strides in those areas over the past several years and we have done so despite the state’s considerable economic difficulties,” he stated. “Thanks to the outstanding personnel the court has assembled in its Administrative Office and its various boards and commissions, I am confident we will be able to build on that momentum in the years to come.”
Karmeier is a native and life-long resident of Washington County, where he attended a one-room grade school. After graduating valedictorian from Okawville Community High School, he attended the University of Illinois, where he received both his undergraduate and law degrees.
Karmeier clerked for former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Byron 0. House from 1964 to 1968, served as state’s attorney of Washington County from 1968 to 1972, and clerked for U.S. District Court Judge James L. Foreman from 1972 to 1973.
He was engaged in the general practice of law with the firm of Hohlt, House, DeMoss & Johnson from 1964 to 1986. He was resident circuit judge of Washington County from 1986 to 2004.
In addition to his regular judicial duties, Karmeier is the Supreme Court’s liaison to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, the Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board, and the Supreme Court Committee on Jury Instructions in Criminal Cases. Since 2013, he has also served as chairperson of the Illinois Courts Commission, the independent body established under the Illinois Constitution to hear and decide cases in which judges are charged with official misconduct.
He will leave that post upon assuming his duties as chief justice and be succeeded by Justice Anne M. Burke.
Throughout his tenure on the Supreme Court, Karmeier has made frequent appearances before school, civic, and professional organizations to speak about the court’s work. He regularly lectures at continuing legal education programs and contributes articles to the ISBA Bench and Bar Section Council Newsletter.
Karmeier was among the recipients of the Illinois Judges Association’s Harold Sullivan Award in 2010 and received the Joseph Bartylak Award from the Lawyer’s Assistance Program in 2015. In January of 2016, Chicago Lawyer Magazine named him Person of the Year.
He is a member of the Illinois Judges’ Association, the Washington County, St. Clair County, East St. Louis and Illinois State Bar Associations, and past member of the American Bar Association and the American Judicature Society.
He served as a member of the Assembly of the Illinois State Bar Association from 1996 to 2002, and as chair of the ISBA’s Bench and Bar Section Council. He is a member of the Southern Illinois American Inn of Court and served as President of the Executive Committee from 2003 to 2007.
Karmeier and his wife, Mary, reside in Nashville. They have two children and six grandchildren.
As chief justice, Karmeier will serve as the chief administrative officer of the statewide judicial system with supervisory authority over the more than 900 judges in the state.
Among other duties, the chief justice controls and schedules the Supreme Court's agenda for consideration in conference by the court during its five formal terms each year, supervises all appointments to Supreme Court committees, serves as chairperson of the Executive Committee of the constitutionally-mandated Illinois Judicial Conference and presents the court’s annual budget request to the General Assembly.
Karmeier will be Illinois' 120th chief justice and the second person from Washington County to hold that office. Justice Byron O. House, for whom Justice Karmeier served as a law clerk, was the first.