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12/14/87 the People of the State of v. Donald Bertelle

December 14, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

DONALD BERTELLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIRST DIVISION

518 N.E.2d 332, 164 Ill. App. 3d 831, 115 Ill. Dec. 807 1987.IL.1846

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Earl E. Strayhorn, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE CAMPBELL delivered the opinion of the court. QUINLAN, P.J., and MANNING, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE CAMPBELL

Defendant, Donald Bertelle, an assistant public defender, appeals from an order entered by the circuit court of Cook County which found him guilty of direct criminal contempt and imposed a $200 fine. On appeal, defendant contends that because his comments were not calculated to embarrass or to obstruct the court or to derogate from the court's authority and dignity, they did not constitute contempt of court. For the following reasons, we reverse the judgment of the circuit court.

The record indicates that the alleged contempt arose during the murder trial of Dennis Fox, who was represented by Bertelle, Clyde Lemmons and Judith Stewart, all assistant public defenders. During cross-examination of a defense witness, the State asked the witness if she recalled being interviewed by an investigator from the State's Attorney's office on an earlier date. Defense attorney Stewart immediately objected to the question. However, the witness replied before the court could rule on the objection. Stewart then repeated the objection and requested a sidebar. Ignoring Stewart's request, the court asked the State to tender a copy of the interview to the defense. The following colloquy ensued:

"BERTELLE: Judge --

THE COURT: Be quiet.

BERTELLE: It is very unfair.

THE COURT: So are you being unfair.

BERTELLE: I am not hiding anything.

THE COURT: If you say anything once again like that, Mr. Bertelle, we are really going to have it. You have been badly trained. Judges have let you get away with things, and you had better not step out of line one more time in this case."

Subsequently, during surrebuttal, defendant Fox testified that he had pled guilty with respect to his three prior convictions and, thus, had never gone to trial. During ...


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