Avery v. State Farm Automobile Ins. Co.
The Brennan Center, along with co-counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, filed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to review Avery v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. The case involved an Illinois Supreme Court justice who declined to recuse himself, and then ruled for one of his biggest campaign contributors. The brief was filed on behalf of 12 organizations committed to ensuring fair and impartial courts.
The petition for review of Avery was the fallout from the most expensive state judicial campaign in United States history, the 2004 race for Illinois Supreme Court justice. Illinois Appellate Judge Gordon Maag and then-circuit Judge Lloyd Karmeier raised a total of approximately $9.3 million in political contributions nearly double the previous national record for a state judicial election. Karmeier, who received over $350,000 in direct contributions from State Farms employees, lawyers and others, and over $1 million more from groups of which State Farm was a member or to which it contributed, won both the fundraising battle and the election. Justice Karmeier then declined to recuse himself from Avery, which had been pending before the Illinois Supreme Court during the campaign. In the case, Justice Karmeier cast the decisive vote reversing a lower courts breach of contract verdict of over $450 million against State Farm.
On March 6, 2006 the Supreme Court declined to hear Avery.
- Amicus Brief (Sup. Ct. 2006) (02/03/06)