Marriage of Bartlett

Second District Appellate Court – (1999) – Held – Attorney Who Represents His Client Respectfully And Zealously May Not Be Found In Contempt Of Court.

In re Marriage of Bartlett 305 Ill.App.3d 28, 711 N.E.2d 460 (2nd Dist. 1999)

(Leading Case On The Duty Of An Attorney To Represent His Client Zealously And Respectfully)

In Bartlett Attorney Canulli represented Dorothy Bartlett whose husband of 44 years had filed for divorce. Canulli presented four motions to the trial court, which sought rulings on numerous issues which were important to the conduct of an impending trial and important to Canulli's representation of Ms. Bartlett. After having argued only two of the four motions which were scheduled for hearing the trial court directed Attorney Canulli to step away from the bench however because the trial court had not yet ruled on each motion being presented attorney Canulli pressed the matter with the court and, as a result, was held in criminal contempt of court. Canulli appealed the finding of criminal contempt arguing that Canulli owed a duty to his client to secure a ruling from the court on each of the motions being presented and the Second District Appellate Court agreed holding that Canulli’s zealous representation of Ms. Bartlett was respectful, proper and in furtherance of his duties as an attorney. The Appellate Court reversed the finding of criminal contempt concluding attorney Canulli's advocacy was neither improper nor contemptuous and the finding of criminal contempt of court must be reversed and vacated.

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