“It seems that Washington County and Nashville are excellent breeding grounds for the Illinois Supreme Court,” said Justice Anne M. Burke, during her comments about Justice Lloyd Karmeier of Nashville, who was sworn in as the Illinois Supreme Court’s newest Chief Justice on the afternoon of Monday, October 31.
Karmeier is Washington County-born and graduated from Okawville Community High School in 1958 as valedictorian. He received both his bachelor’s degree and his juris doctorate from the University of Illinois. He was the Washington County State’s Attorney from 1968 to 1972, and served as Washington County’s Circuit Judge from 1986 to 2004. He also practiced law with the firm Hohlt, House, DeMoss & Johnson from 1964 to 1986.
After describing Karmeier’s respect and honor for the court, the law, his background and others, Burke said, “to put it simply, Lloyd Karmeier is the salt of the earth.”
Retired Justice Phil Rarick also spoke. Rarick swore Karmeier in for his first term as a supreme court justice in 2004, and again in 2014 when Karmeier was retained for a new term. He said that he had considered Karmeier a friend for the past 41 years, saying, “It is a tribute to his character that his friendships are so deep and enduring.”
Karmeier took the oath of his new office administered by outgoing Chief Justice Rita Garman, while he was wearing a robe that belonged to Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Byron O. House, also of Nashville, who Karmeier clerked for from 1964 to 1968
After taking his oath, Karmeier credited his family for the role they had played in his life, joking that he had made a good decision in choosing his parents, and added that he also made good decisions in choosing his siblings, his children and his grandchildren.
The only decision regarding family which Karmeier said was truly in his hands was in choosing his wife, Mary, saying, “that decision is still my proudest and best.”
Karmeier also read to those present from “The Statement of Expectations For Judges,” which was adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court eight years ago and is now given to all of Illinois’ judges. The courts of the United States were in a unique position “to deliver fair and impartial justice.”
“As judges,” Karmeier continued to read, “it becomes our responsibility to enhance the public’s trust and to foster in the citizenry and unfaltering sense of confidence.”
“While that declaration is relatively new, the principals it expresses have guided me throughout my career on the bench,” Karmeier said. He added that he would continue to let them guide him while going forward as chief justice.
Karmeier closed his statements by thanking his fellow supreme court justices; for their wisdom and counsel, their friendship, and for their support, “when support was needed, and appreciated. You all hold a very special place in my life, and my heart…I am honored to serve, and I look forward to the years to come.”
“Justice Karmeier is a man of unrivaled integrity who is devoted to the court as an institution, and to the citizens he serves,” said Rarick, closing his statements. He added, “we are going to be in good hands.”