By Charlie Ingrassia
Associate, Adler Murphy & McQuillen LLP
On February 23, 2017, the ALA gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago for a special luncheon honoring Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier, who assumed the position late last year.
ALA President Joanne R. Driscoll began the luncheon by welcoming ALA members and guests, which included Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, as well as numerous Illinois Appellate Court justices and Circuit Court judges. Thereafter, Chief Justice Karmeier shared his vision for the state’s High Court. Drawing a large laugh from the audience, the Chief Justice remarked that his top priority is to create a “Hail to the Chief” twitter account. Turning to a more serious note, Chief Justice Karmeier noted that the Illinois Supreme Court changes the position of Chief Justice every three years, which it does with “little fanfare.” His role as the state’s top jurist is to oversee the operation of the Illinois courts, including budgetary matters.
Chief Justice Karmeier outlined a number of court initiatives. These included a commitment to promptly and fairly deciding cases; bolstering the Illinois Supreme Court’s commission on professionalism to improve ethical standards; continuing the Illinois Supreme Court’s Access to Justice program in order to help pro se litigants navigate the legal system; pursuing criminal justice reform, including alternatives to cash bond to address situations in which people are held because they cannot afford nominal bail; and the transition to a statewide e-filing system.
Finally, Chief Justice Karmeier discussed his desire to remedy negative campaigning that has become commonplace in judicial elections. He explained that such campaigning is not limited to a certain political ideology or interest group. Sharing his own experience, the Chief Justice recounted a $2.6 million dollar negative advertising campaign against him, most of which was spent during the last two weeks before election day. Chief Justice Karmeier stressed that the judiciary’s integrity has “taken a beating” from negative campaigns and expressed his belief that lawyers have a duty to help ensure that debates regarding judicial candidates are factually based.
The ALA thanks Chief Justice Karmeier for his insightful and engaging comments.