Lloyd A. Karmeier

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Lloyd Karmeier
Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court
Assumed office
October 31, 2016
Preceded byRita B. Garman
Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court from the 5th district
Assumed office
December 6, 2000
Preceded byPhilip Rarick
Personal details
Born (1940-01-12) January 12, 1940 (age 79)
Washington County, Illinois
Political partyRepublican
EducationUniversity of Illinois (B.S.)
University of Illinois (JD)

Lloyd A. Karmeier (born January 12, 1940) is an American judge who currently serves as the Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and as a justice from the 5th district.[1][2]

Early life and education[edit]

Karmeier was born on January 12, 1940 in Washington County, Illinois.[1] After graduating as valedictorian from Okawville Community High School in 1958,[1] Karmeier received a bachelor's degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and law degrees from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1962 and 1964 respectively.[1][3]

Early legal career[edit]

Karmeier clerked for former Illinois Supreme Court Justice Byron O. House from 1964 to 1968. He was elected State's Attorney for Washington County from 1968 to 1972 as a Republican.[4] He later clerked for former US District Court Judge James L. Foreman from 1972 to 1973.[1] He was engaged in the general practice of law with the firm of Hohlt, House, DeMoss & Johnson from 1964 to 1986.[1] He was resident Circuit Judge of Washington County from 1986 to 2004, when he was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court.[1]

Illinois Supreme Court[edit]

He became the justice for the Fifth District on the Illinois Supreme Court.[1] He was elected as a Republican to his current position in a highly contested election against Democrat Gordon Maag in 2004. He was sworn into office on December 6, 2000.[5]

Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court[edit]

Karmeier became 120th chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court on October 31, 2016, and was sworn in by Rita Garman, who herself had served as chief justice.[2] According to Herald and Review, "In his position, which he'll fill for three years after being elected by his fellow justices on the seven-member court, Karmeier will serve as the top administrator for Illinois' judicial system, which includes more than 900 judges."[3] According to Illinois Lawyer Now, "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."[6] His term as chief justice will end October 25, 2019.[7]


State Farm Insurance appeal[edit]

During his candidacy for the office of judge in Illinois, Karmeier managed to raise $4.8 million for his election campaign.[8] This included a direct contribution of $350,000 from the State Farm Insurance group.[8] Other affiliates of State Farm Insurance also paid for Karmeier's campaign.[8] Around that time State Farm policyholders had won $1 billion against State Farm in Avery v. State Farm,[9] and had prevailed at the intermediate appellate court. The appeal against the damages and award was pending before the Illinois Supreme Court. When Karmeier was elected, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper published an editorial, "Big business won a nice return on a $4.3 million investment ... It now has a friendly justice". Despite opposition, Karmeier refused to dissociate himself from the case, and the appeal was decided in favor of State Farm Insurance by a majority of 4-2, with Karmeier in the majority. $600 million of punitive damages as well as the award of $457 million against State Farm were reversed.[10] In 2018, State Farm agreed to pay a $250 million settlement in a class-action lawsuit claiming State Farm conspired to defraud 4.7 million current and former customers out of the $1.05 billion award.[11]

In 2014, Karmeier was up for a retention vote. A political group of trial lawyers funded a last-minute, $2 million advertising campaign in an unsuccessful effort to unseat him.[3]

Karmeier addressed the controversies in a 2014 filing in the Philip Morris case, in which he wrote, "When I ran for this office a decade ago, I made only one promise. It was a promise to the People of Illinois and the voters of the Fifth Judicial District that if elected, I would decide every case free of outside influence and based solely on the law and the facts. I have honored that pledge."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Karmeier and his wife, Mary, reside in Nashville, Illinois.[1] They have two children and six grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Lloyd A. Karmeier, Supreme Court Justice: Fifth District". IllinoisCourts.gov. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Karmeier sworn in as Illinois Supreme Court chief justice". SFGate.com. Hearst. Associated Press. October 31, 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Petrella, Dan (2016-11-01). "Karmeier now Illinois chief judge". Herald-Review.com. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  4. ^ Illinois Blue Book 1969-1970 page 810
  5. ^ Adrian, Matt (December 7, 2000). "Karmeier Takes Oath, Raises Concerns". The Southern Illinoisan. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  6. ^ Bonjean, Chris (2016-09-19). "Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier elected as next Chief Justice of Illinois Supreme Court | Illinois Lawyer Now". Illinois Lawyer Now. Illinois State Bar Association. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  7. ^ "Lloyd Karmeier". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2016-11-11.
  8. ^ a b c Schotland, Roy A. (2007), Transparency International (ed.), "Global Corruption Report 2007: Corruption in Judicial Systems", Judicial Elections in the United States, Cambridge University Press, pp. 27–28
  9. ^ Michael Avery et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Docket No. 91494, (Illinois Supreme Court, 2005)
  10. ^ Mackey, Brian (23 January 2015). "Supreme Tort: The campaign to fire Justice Lloyd Karmeier". Illinois Public Media News. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
  11. ^ Patrick, Robert. "Class action lawsuit claiming State Farm conspiracy settled for $250 million". stltoday.com. Retrieved 2018-09-05.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Rita B. Garman
Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court