Husband posted comments on his Facebook page.  He stated that he had intentionally and secretly recorded a court hearing.  The recording was in violation of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 63(A)(8).   He encouraged other people with court cases to do the same.

The court held a hearing regarding the secret recording.  Husband testified that he had lied on his Facebook page.  He said that in fact he did not make an illegal recording.

The trial court found him in indirect civil contempt of court.  For the comments he made encouraging other litigants to break the law.

The court said he could get out of the civil contempt finding (purge). He could make an apology on his Facebook page.  Also, a retraction of his claim that he recorded the hearing.  The Judge believed that Husband’s actions were intended to bring disorder and disruption to every courtroom in the state.

Husband appealed.  The appellate court reversed the finding of contempt.

A civil finding of contempt must be used to make someone do something. Not to punish them.  Punishment is used in criminal court.  The purge for Husband was criminal in nature.  He had not been given the protections that criminal defendants are given. It had to be reversed.

People are not allowed to electronically record family court proceedings. The court can still go after Husband with a finding of civil contempt. That requires minimal protections, unlike criminal court. Only notice and a chance to be heard in court.

In re Marriage of Weddigen, 2015 IL App (4th) 150044.

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