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In Re Marriage of Souleles



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Marion E. Burks, Judge, presiding.


This is an appeal from an order denying a motion to quash a nonwage garnishment summons.

The issues we address on appeal are as follows: (1) whether a savings account at a Federal savings and loan association is exempt from garnishment where the association has possession of the passbook without a written assignment from the holders of record; (2) whether orders awarding attorney fees contained in a judgment for dissolution of marriage are valid judgments upon which to base a garnishment action; and (3) whether judgment creditor and garnishee followed the procedures required by the Garnishment Act.

We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Funds held on deposit at a savings and loan association were the subject of the garnishment action in the case below. The sequence of events leading up to disbursement of the funds is particularly relevant and will be set out in chronological order.

On May 18, 1981, judgment for the dissolution of the marriage of Dena Souleles (petitioner) and George Souleles (respondent) was entered by the circuit court of Cook County. The judgment ordered that attorney fees of both parties were to be paid by respondent. It also ordered petitioner to pay her attorney $1,000. At 4:15 p.m. the same day, attorney for petitioner, George D. Karcazes (hereinafter called Karcazes), instituted a garnishment action against First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Wilmette (hereinafter called First Federal). Karcazes commenced the action by filing an affidavit for garnishment (nonwage) and interrogatories to garnishee with the clerk of the court — domestic relations division. Karcazes, the affiant, stated that judgment was entered on May 18, 1981, in favor of judgment creditor (Karcazes) and against judgment debtor (respondent) for $2,000. The clerk of the court issued summons against First Federal the same day; summons was properly served on May 23, 1981. Under cover letter, also dated May 18, 1981, Karcazes forwarded a copy of the judgment for dissolution of marriage to Ms. Alice A. Winkler, branch manager of First Federal. In his letter, Karcazes stated that judgment entered in the case of Souleles v. Souleles awarded him attorney fees in the amount of $2,000 and that judgment in that amount had been entered against respondent. Karcazes also explained how the funds held in respondent's savings account were to be distributed, informed First Federal of the institution of the garnishment action, and directed First Federal to extinguish respondent's account upon payment of the various sums due. Five days after its issuance, summons was served on Ms. Winkler as agent of First Federal. The affidavit for garnishment (nonwage) and interrogatories to garnishee were served with the summons.

On June 11, 1981, the day before First Federal filed its answer to the interrogatories, Karcazes telephoned First Federal and informed it that he had obtained a release (satisfaction) of judgment based upon the affidavit for garnishment and the answer to the interrogatories. The telephone conversation was confirmed by letter dated June 11, 1981, from Karcazes which included the following: (1) a copy of the judgment for dissolution of marriage, (2) a stamped copy of the release (satisfaction) of judgment dated June 9, 1981, and filed on June 10, 1981, and (3) the savings account passbook registered in the names of petitioner and respondent.

First Federal filed its answer, under oath, to the interrogatories on the return date, June 12, 1981. The answer stated that First Federal, as garnishee, was indebted to respondent at the time the summons was served (May 23, 1981). Property in which respondent had an interest, which was in the possession, custody or control of First Federal was described as a savings account held in the name of respondent. First Federal also stated the funds in the account totaled $4,592.83.

Thereafter, First Federal disbursed the funds in accordance with Karcazes' instructions and the judgment of dissolution of marriage. First Federal asserts that it acted within the purview of the law when it disbursed the funds based upon the June 11 telephone conversation, the confirmation letter, and the receipt of the release.

Respondent subsequently motioned the circuit court to set a contempt hearing against Karcazes and First Federal and to quash the garnishment action. These motions were denied and respondent appeals.

Initially we note that the briefs filed in the instant case offer minimal assistance to this court. Our review of the transcript of the proceedings below indicates that appellant was aware that proper garnishment procedures were not followed. The introduction in appellant's brief so states, yet he failed to comply with various sections of Supreme Court Rule 341 (87 Ill.2d R. 341). Appellant's brief contains no citation to the Garnishment Act, as required by section 341(e)(5); appellant fails to analyze how the cases cited in support of his first issue relate to the case at bar; and appellant cites no cases whatsoever to support the other issues he raises.

• 1 Reviewing courts> are entitled to have briefs submitted that are articulate and present an organized and cohesive legal argument in accordance with the applicable supreme court rules. (47th & State Currency Exchange, Inc. v. B. Coleman Corp. (1977), 56 Ill. App.3d 229, 371 N.E.2d 294.) Case law supports the proposition that when there is a failure to comply with the rules, the appeal will not be entertained. (Biggs v. Spader (1951), 411 Ill. 42, 103 N.E.2d 104.) It is firmly established that "[r]eviewing courts> are entitled to have the issues clearly defined, to be cited pertinent authorities and are not a depository in which an appellant is to dump the entire matter of pleadings, court action, argument and research as it were, upon the court." (In re Estate of Kunz (1972), 7 Ill. App.3d 760, 763, 288 N.E.2d 520, 523.) However, this court has held that Supreme Court Rule 341 states an admonition to the parties rather than a jurisdictional limitation on the court. (Occidental Chemical Co. v. Agri Profit Systems, Inc. (1975), 37 Ill. App.3d 599, 346 N.E.2d 482.) Therefore, in the interest of justice and fairness, we shall entertain this appeal. In order to reach a just result, based upon the correct principles of law, we address the issues which our research indicates this case presents.

First, appellant contends that the savings account is exempt from ...

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