Order Denying Homicide Witnesses’ Request To Postpone Grand Jury Subpoena Not Final And Appealable

Sheila and Marissa Brown were witnesses to a homicide. In mid-December 2009 they were subpoenaed to testify to a grand jury just six days later. But the Browns said they did not have time to effectively communicate with a lawyer before the grand jury proceeding, and that they had previously made plans to travel out of town. So two days before they were scheduled to testify they asked the trial court to postpone their appearances until after the new year.

The trial court denied the Browns’ request because they did not present “an urgent matter.” The Browns appealed the next day. When they did not appear for their testimony to the grand jury, the State filed a petition to hold the Browns in contempt. The Browns asked the trial court to stay State’s contempt request while the appeal was pending. The trial court refused.

The Second District Illinois Appellate Court dismissed the Browns’ appeal for lack of jurisdiction. The court ruled that “An order denying a motion to continue is not a final and appealable order.” The existence of the contempt proceedings did not matter, the appellate court ruled, because the Browns appealed before an appealable contempt order was entered.

Read the whole case, In re John Doe Investigation, 2011 IL App (2d) 091355 (7/11/11), by clicking here.