Appeal Request Cites Karmeier’s Refusal to Recuse

The St. Louis law firm of lawyer Stephen Tillery has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear an appeal and find that Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier improperly declined to recuse himself from a multi-billion dollar anti-tobacco case, according to a column by Jim Dey in The News-Gazette.

There is a long courtroom and judicial election saga involving the case. Last year, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled as it had before in favor of tobacco company Philip Morris, sparing it a $10.1 billion judgment, and Justice Karmeier voted in the 4-2 majority (see Gavel Grab).

In papers filed with the U.S. Supreme Court, the Tillery law firm asks “whether it violates the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment for a judge to participate in a case where the judge has made pejorative public statements about a litigant or an attorney, and there exists a reasonable public perception that one of the parties (Philip Morris) funded the judge’s election campaign.”

In 2014, Karmeier rejected a request by lawyers for plaintiffs suing Philip Morris to recuse himself from participating in an appeal on grounds there was a public perception he was biased (see Gavel Grab for more).

When Karmeier ran for retention (yes-or-no) election in 2014, a $3 million spending battle “was largely linked to interests with a connection” to the ongoing anti-tobacco litigation, Justice at Stake and two partner organizations reported in Bankrolling the Bench: The New Politics of Judicial Elections 2013-14.