News Local/State

Karmeier Named Chief Justice Of Illinois Supreme Court

Illinois Supreme Court justice Lloyd A. Karmeier questions an attorney during oral arguments in Chicago.

In this Sept. 10, 2013, file photo, Illinois Supreme Court justice Lloyd A. Karmeier questions an attorney during oral arguments in Chicago. M. Spencer Green / AP Phonot

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier has been selected by his peers on the state's highest court to be its next chief justice. 

The state Supreme Court on Monday announced Karmeier's unanimous selection to a three-year term beginning Oct. 26. He will be the chief administrative officer of the state's judicial system and oversee more than 900 judges in Illinois.  

In a state Supreme Court news release, Karmeier said he appreciated the confidence shown by his fellow  high court justices in choosing him as chief justict.

"I have had the privilege of serving under five different chief justices, all of whom have done an outstanding job," said Karmeier. "I will do my very best to live up to the high standard they have set."

According to the news release, Karmeier pledged to continue the Illinois Supreme Court's efforts to make the judicial branch of state government more efficient and accessible, building on such past accomplishments as adopting a statewide system for electronic filing. 

"We have made great strides in those areas over the past several years," Karmeier said, "and we have done so despite the state's considerable economic difficulties."

The 76-year-old Karmeier has served on the Supreme Court since 2004. He received attention for voting in 2005 to overturn a $10.1 billion class-action judgment against Philip Morris over past efforts to market "low-tar'' and "light'' cigarettes as healthier alternatives. Plaintiffs' attorneys wanted him recused from the case, saying he had received contributions from Philip Morris, which Karmeier denied.  

Karmeier narrowly survived a 2014 retention election, successfully battling critics who accused him of being influenced by so-called "dark money" donated to his initial 2004 election campaign from interests connected to Phillip Morris --- and also from interests linked to insurance giant State Farm, which benefited from Karmeier's ruling in another case.

Karmeier is a native and life-long resident of Washington County. He and his wife, Mary, reside in the Washington County town of Nashville. They have two children and six grandchildren.

Karmeier is replacing Justice Rita Garman, who is finishing a three-year term as chief justice.