Part 1.00 Contempt of Court
Contempt of Court defined. Contempt of Court consists of conduct, verbal or non-verbal acts which:
A. Embarrass or obstruct the Court in its administration of justice or derogate from its authority or dignity;
B. Bring the administration of justice into disrepute; or
C. Constitute willful disobedience of a Court Order or Judgment.
Direct criminal contempt defined. Conduct constitutes direct criminal contempt if it is committed in such a manner that no evidentiary hearing is necessary to determine the facts establishing such conduct and it is committed in the presence of the Judge, or in an integral part of the Court, while the Court is performing its judicial functions.
A. Court’s alternatives. Upon the commission of an act constituting a direct criminal contempt, the Court may:
1. Summarily find the person in contempt and immediately impose a sentence;
2. Summarily find the person in contempt and impose a sentence within a reasonable time; or
3. Delay the finding of contempt and the imposition of sentence until a later time. When the finding of contempt is delayed, the contempt proceeding shall be conducted in the same manner as an indirect criminal contempt (see LCR 10-1.03).
B. Conduct specified/statement in mitigation. Prior to entering a finding of contempt, the Court shall inform the person of the specific conduct forming the basis of the finding. Prior to imposing sentence the Court shall permit the person an opportunity to present a statement in mitigation.
C. Sentence. If the matter is heard without a jury, and upon a finding of direct criminal contempt, the Court may impose a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars, a jail sentence not to exceed six months, or both. If a jury finds the Respondent guilty of contempt, the Court is not limited in the amount of fine or period of incarceration it may impose. The Court, in the exercise of its discretion, may impose such other sanctions as it deems appropriate.
D. Written Order required. Upon imposition of a sentence, the Court shall enter a written Judgment Order setting forth the factual basis of the finding and specifying the sentence it imposed.
E. When referral to another Judge is required. Where the behavior that allegedly constitutes contempt embroils the Judge to the degree that the Judge’s objectivity can reasonably be questioned, the issues of contempt and appropriate sentence shall be referred to a different Judge. In this event, the Judge before whom the alleged contempt occurred shall specify in writing the nature of the alleged acts of contempt, shall direct that a record of the proceedings surrounding the acts be prepared and shall transfer the matter to the Presiding Judge for reassignment. The Judge hearing the proceedings after the reassignment shall base his findings and adjudication of the contempt charge solely on the transferred written charge and the record of the proceedings.
F. Appeal. A Judgment of direct criminal contempt may be appealed in the same manner as criminal cases. Upon the filing of a Notice of Appeal, the Court may set bond and stay the execution of any sentence imposed pending the outcome of the appeal.
Indirect criminal contempt defined. Conduct constitutes indirect contempt when it occurs outside the presence of the Court, or the elements of the offense are otherwise not within the personal knowledge of the Judge. Criminal contempt committed in the presence of the Court, but not summarily treated as direct criminal contempt as provided in LCR 10-1.02, may be prosecuted as indirect criminal contempt.
A. Petition for Adjudication. An indirect criminal contempt proceeding shall be initiated by the filing of a Petition for Adjudication of indirect criminal contempt. The Petition shall be verified and set forth with particularity the nature of the alleged conduct. The charge may be prosecuted by the State’s Attorney or, if he declines, by an attorney appointed by the Court.
B. Notice of Hearing. If the Court finds that the Petition sets forth factual allegations which support a finding of contempt, it shall set the matter for hearing and order that Notice be given to Respondent alleged to have committed contempt. Notice of the hearing and a copy of the Petition shall be served and returned in the manner as provided in Supreme Court Rule 105(b); or, in child support enforcement cases or if the Court so directs, the Clerk of the Circuit Court or Petitioner’s attorney may give Notice by regular U.S. Mail, postage prepaid, to the Respondent’s last known address. If Notice is made by regular U.S. Mail, proof of mailing Notice shall be made a part of the record. Notice by personal service shall be served not less than seven days prior to the hearing, and Notice by U.S. Mail shall be mailed not less than ten days prior to the hearing. In addition to the time, date and place of hearing, the Notice shall include the following words in bold type: “YOUR FAILURE TO APPEAR AT THIS HEARING MAY RESULT IN YOUR ARREST.” If the Respondent fails to appear after due Notice, or if the Court has reason to believe the Respondent will not appear in response to the Notice, the Court may issue a bench warrant for the Respondent’s arrest. When a warrant issues, the Court shall set bail as authorized in criminal cases. The amount of bail shall be indicated on the Order of Attachment.
C. Explanation of Respondent’s rights. At the first Court appearance of the Respondent, the Court shall inform the Respondent of his right to:
1. Notice of the charge and of the time and place of the hearing;
2. An evidentiary hearing, including the right to subpoena witnesses, confront the witnesses against him, and make a response to the charge;
3. An attorney and, if indigent, the right to have an attorney appointed;
4. Freedom from self-incrimination;
5. The presumption of innocence;
6. Be proven guilty only by proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt; and
7. A trial by jury if the Court, prior to the start of the hearing, declares that a jail sentence of more than six months, a fine of more than $500.00, or both, may be imposed upon a finding of guilty.
D. When referral to another Judge required. The Petition shall be referred to another Judge for the hearing on the issues of contempt and the imposition of a sentence where a controversy between the Judge and the alleged contemnor is integrated with the alleged conduct and embroils the Judge to the degree that the Judge‘s objectivity may be reasonably questioned.
E. Statement in mitigation. If a person is found in contempt, the Judge shall allow the person an opportunity to make a statement in mitigation prior to imposing sentence.
F. Sentencing. After any hearing in which the Respondent was advised of his right to trial by jury the Court, in the exercise of its discretion, may impose sanctions as it deems necessary and appropriate. Otherwise, the Court may impose a sentence of up to six months in jail, a fine of not more than $500.00, or both.
G. Written Order required. Upon imposition of a sentence, the Court shall enter a written Judgment Order setting forth the factual basis for the finding and specifying the sentence it imposed.
H. Appeal. A Judgment of indirect criminal contempt may be appealed in the same manner as criminal cases. Upon the filing of a Notice of Appeal, the Court may set bond and stay the execution of any sentence imposed pending the outcome of the appeal.
Civil contempt defined. Civil contempt of Court is defined as:
A. The willful failure to obey a Court Order or Judgment; and
B. Coercive rather than punitive sanctions are sought to compel compliance with the Order or Judgment.
1. Petition for Adjudication or Rule to Show Cause. A civil contempt proceeding shall be initiated by the filing of a Petition for Adjudication of civil contempt or a Rule to Show Cause unless the act is committed in the presence of the Court. The Petition shall be verified and set forth with particularity the portion(s) of the Court Order that is alleged to have been violated and the nature of the violation. If the Court finds that the Petition sets forth allegations which support the charge, it shall set the matter for hearing and order that Notice be given to the Respondent alleged to be in contempt.
2. Notice. Notice of the hearing and a copy of the Petition shall be served on the Respondent and made of record in the manner specified in LCR 10-1.03. In addition to the time, date and place of hearing, the Notice shall include the following words in bold type: “YOUR FAILURE TO APPEAR AT THIS HEARING MAY RESULT IN YOUR ARREST.” If, after Notice, the Respondent fails to appear, the Court may order a body attachment to issue and set bail.
3. Response. No later than three days prior to the hearing, the Respondent may file a written Answer either admitting, or denying with specificity, any of the allegations, along with any affirmative defenses. Subsequent written or oral denials and affirmative defenses may be made only with leave of Court. Those allegations of the Petition that are not specifically denied may be deemed admitted. If the basis of the charge of civil contempt is the failure of the Respondent to make Court ordered payments to the Clerk of the Circuit Court, the records of the Clerk shall be prima facie evidence of the amount paid and disbursed by the Clerk.
4. Method of hearing. Civil contempt proceedings shall be tried before the Court without a jury.
5. Sanctions. If the Court finds the Respondent in civil contempt, it may continue the matter for a reasonable time before the imposition of sanctions or; it may impose sanctions immediately. Prior to the imposition of sanctions, the Respondent shall have the right to make a statement in mitigation. Sanctions may include a continuing fine and/or incarceration in the county jail. The sanctions imposed shall remain in full force and effect until the Respondent purges himself of contempt or is otherwise discharged by due process of law. The Court may assess reasonable costs and attorney’s fees against the Respondent.
6. Written Order required. Upon an adjudication of civil contempt, the Court shall enter a written Judgment Order specifying the factual basis for the finding of contempt, the sanction imposed, and the means by which the Respondent may purge himself of contempt. A copy of the Order shall be provided to the Respondent.
7. Appeal. An appeal from a Judgment a civil contempt may be taken as an appeal in civil cases. Upon filing a Notice of Appeal, the Court may set bond and may stay the execution of any sanction imposed pending the outcome of the appeal.
Local Court Rules of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit
Adopted by the Circuit Judges of the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit on the 24th day of October, 2016 and effective immediately.