No Appellate Jurisdiction Where Appeal Taken While Contempt Motion Still Pending. Second District Illinois Appellate Court Overrules 2-Month Old Opinion

This appeal arises from Nancy Knoerr’s post-dissolution petitions to increase child support and to force her ex-husband, David, to contribute to college expenses of one of their children. David moved for reconsideration after Nancy got a favorable result on her petitions. Nancy then petitioned for a rule to show cause, claiming that David refused to comply with the orders increasing child support and David’s contribution to the college expenses.

The trial court denied David’s motion to reconsider, and continued Nancy’s petition for a rule to show cause. The trial court did not issue Rule 304(a) language (allowing an interlocutory appeal). David appealed the ruling on Nancy’s petitions while the rule to show cause still was pending.

This is another case in which the Second District Illinois Appellate Court assessed its jurisdiction without benefit of a motion contesting jurisdiction. The appellate court dismissed the appeal because the still-pending rule to show cause rendered the action non-final.

The appellate court overruled another Second District opinion, Marriage of Gutman, 376 Ill. App. 3d 378, No. 2-06-0213 (2007). Gutman, which was decided on October 16, 2007, ruled exactly opposite of Knoerr. (“… [T]he Gutman court held that civil contempt petitions initiate separate proceedings and not ‘claims’ within the action, thereby excepting them from Rule 304(a). However, we believe that Gutman’s conclusion, that pending or denied civil contempt petitions are not subject to Rule 304(a), is based on a flawed analysis, and we overrule it.”

The panels were different in the two cases. Gutman was written by Justice Grometer, Callum and Gilleran Johnson concurring. Knoerr was written by Justice Bowman, McLaren and Zenoff concurring. It’s interesting to see the court overrule an opinion that was just two months old and written by a different panel.

The whole opinion, IRMO Knoerr, No. 2-06-1060 (12/21/07), is available by clicking here.