Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable, Thomas R. Fitzgerald, Judge Presiding.
The Honorable Justice Cerda delivered the opinion of the court: Rizzi, J., Concurs. Greiman, P.j., Dissents.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Cerda
JUSTICE CERDA delivered the opinion of the court:
Defendant attorneys, Vincent Jones and LaCoulton Walls (the contemnors), appeal the trial court's order finding them in direct contempt of court because they refused to testify before the grand jury about a conversation they had with a former client. Pending the outcome of this appeal, the imposition of the contemnors' sentences has been stayed.
The facts are not in dispute. From October 1994 to December 28, 1994, the contemnors represented Beverly Heard, who had previously alleged and then recanted charges that she had had a sexual relationship with United States Congressman Mel Reynolds when she was 16 years old.
On June 2, 1994, Ms. Heard contacted the State Attorney's office, reported that she met Congressman Reynolds when she was 16 years old, and had a sexual relationship with him. As a result of those allegations, Congressman Reynolds was charged with criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-15 (West 1992) and child pornography. 720 ILCS 5/11-20.1 (West 1992).
Ms. Heard then recanted her allegations against Mr. Reynolds inthree separate written affidavits. On June 15, 1994, Ms. Heard issued a one-sentence, written affidavit stating that she was "withdrawing from any further investigation or prosecution of Mr. Mel Reynolds." Later, on June 21, 1994, Ms. Heard issued another written affidavit withdrawing "any of [her] previous statements that Mel Reynolds and [she] had sexual intercourse when [she] was 16 years old." Subsequently, on June 26, 1994, Ms. Heard issued a third written affidavit, two pages in length, in which she again recanted her previous allegations against Mr. Reynolds.
On June 28, 1994, and July 5, 1994, Ms. Heard testified before the grand jury. She restated the same information that she had previously told to the police and the State's attorney but also stated that the recantations in the three affidavits were true.
Thereafter, Ms. Heard issued a court-reported deposition dated December 28, 1994, in which she recanted her allegations against Mr. Reynolds. In the deposition, Ms. Heard gave the following testimony about her former attorneys, the contemnors:
"Q. And when you returned from Cleveland, did you have a conversation with the state's attorney or police department?
Q. Do you recall when and where that took place?
A. Well, this was at Jones and Walls' office. I spoke with Andrea Zopp and Neal Goodfriend.
Q. And who was Jones and Walls?
A. Jones and Walls were my attorneys at that time.
Q. These were different attorneys that were representing you at that particular time?
Q. And when you spoke with Andrea Zopp and Neal Goodfriend at the office of Jones and Walls, do you remember the context of the conversation?
A. Well, they were just telling me how they have got him. They've got Mel and how they felt that I did a real good job on the telephone conversations and asked me did I have any questions or anything like that. And they were talking about other things, but they were sort of talking amongst themselves. They didn't have anything much to do with me.
Q. When you spoke with the attorneys at Jones and Walls about representing you, did you talk with them in terms of in what context they would represent you?
A. Yes. They told me that they would do anything that I want to do, and I told them about I want to ...