August 30, 2004

Forum features state Supreme Court candidates

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Candidates in one of this fall's most closely watched judicial races in the state are appearing at a forum Tuesday, Sept. 7, at the Southern Illinois University Carbondale law school auditorium.

The forum will feature Illinois Supreme Court candidates Lloyd A. Karmeier and Gordon E. Maag. The event, which begins at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Media Advisory

Reporters and photographers are welcome to cover the forum. The candidates will be available after the forum for interviews.

The Pre-Law Association, a registered student organization at SIUC, is sponsoring the forum. Pre-Law Association President Gregory W. Odom said he expects the candidates will discuss their backgrounds, why they are running for the Illinois Supreme Court, and what got the candidates interested in the law.

Scott A. Comparato, an assistant professor in political science, noted that state supreme courts have dealt with a number of issues recently, including the application of the death penalty and same-sex marriage.

"Given the increased importance of courts in the policy-making process I think it is important for people to be familiar with the judicial philosophy of those judges who will be sitting on these courts," said Comparato, who also serves as PLA faculty advisor. "Citizens should be more aware of the role that courts play generally, and hopefully by listening to the comments of the candidates in the upcoming Supreme Court election, we will have a better sense of what role they feel judges should play in the legal and political process."

Because the event is not a debate, the forum is an "opportunity for each candidate to express their views independently," said Comparato.

Odom is a senior in political science from Marion. He sees the event as a way to attract new members, and bring attention to the registered student organization, SIUC and the political race.

"Many people don't get a chance to see them," said Odom. "I thought this would be a good chance for them to see the people and get to know them a little better on a more personal level."

Karmeier, a Republican, became a resident circuit judge in the 20th Judicial Circuit in 1986. He is a former state's attorney in Washington County. He earned a bachelor's degree in commerce in 1962 and a law degree in 1964 from the University of Illinois.

"As an active member of the Bar and frequent visitor to the Southern Illinois University campus, it will be a pleasure to share with students my thoughts on the legal profession and this race for the Illinois Supreme Court," said Karmeier.

Maag, a Democrat, has been a justice on the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon since 1992, and before that served three years as an associate judge in the circuit court-level. He received his bachelor's degree in political science from St. Louis University in 1973 and after serving as an infantry officer with the 101st Army Airborne, earned his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1979.

"I'm pleased that SIUC is offering this forum as a way to inform students about the importance of a Supreme Court race," said Maag. "I also believe the forum will provide a unique opportunity to contrast the two candidates and paves another avenue for students to become more engaged in the electoral process . . ."

The 5th District Illinois Supreme Court seat is comprised of 37 counties in the southern part of Illinois, including as far north as Christian and Shelby counties.

Developing citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.