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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Attorney’s ‘Outbursts’ Warranted New Trial

(CN) - U.S. Bank was entitled to a new trial after the defense attorney in a personal injury case complained loudly about being victimized by opposing counsel and the trial judge within earshot of the jury, an Illinois appeals court ruled.

U.S. Bank is the trustee for Roe Ann Lockhart, a 12-year-old pedestrian who was injured and disabled by a YMCA minivan.

After the first trial, the jury ruled for YMCA and the driver. U.S. Bank appealed, claiming the defense attorney's comments warranted a new trial.

"According to U.S. Bank," the ruling states, "these comments were repeatedly made during sidebar conferences outside the presence of the jury in the court hallway in such a loud voice that the trial court had to admonish defense counsel on more than one occasion to lower his voice because, the trial judge pointed out, the jury could hear defense counsel's outbursts."

U.S. Bank won its motion for a new trial, and a second jury awarded it nearly $15.5 million. YMCA appealed, claiming the trial judge erred in giving the trustee a second shot.

But the appeals court said the first trial judge had been justified in granting a new trial.

"The trial judge was obviously present when defense counsel repeatedly engaged in what the court described as bad behavior which was disrespectful to our system of justice," Justice Cunningham wrote. "The trial court specifically described that behavior as loud comments, which were purposefully made within the hearing range of the jury."

The court also dismissed the YMCA's objections to the second trial.

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