Appealing a judgment and stopping a collection action

Asked almost 4 years ago - Chicago, IL

A court judgment was entered against me in the civil court, law division. In less than two weeks from the judgment date, the plaintiff’s attorney obtained a levy against my bank account, which got frozen. Because I feel very strongly that I was victimized and the monetary fine was too harsh, I have filed a Notice of Appeal. My questions are:
1. Do I have to post a bond? And if yes, how can I avoid posting a bond, if possible? Please note that the court order doesn’t talk about posting a bond, and it was the plaintiff’s attorney who wrote the order.
2. What can I do to stop the plaintiff’s attorney from pursuing collection on the judgment? I have a hearing set for November 1 to discover assets.

Thank you very much.

Additional information

I feel I have a chance at pursuing Abuse of Discretion or Misapplication of the Law! Because the judge we had for months had dismissed my name from the case. On the final trial day, he was busy, so he sent us to another judge. This judge body language was too obvious the day of trial that he was prejudice toward us – defendants; on his own he offered to the other attorney to add my name back into the case. Out attorney objected and submitted post trial a Motion to Reconsider putting my name back on the case, but the judge declined to look at it.
I understand that this could be challenging and possibly costly, but I'm willing to take a chance (because I was strongly victimized), as long as I can find an attorney who would do it for a flat fee! The other alternative is to retain an attorney as a consultant for guidance, as I am good at doing research and writing motions (gotta love those templates!).
Thank you very much.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. John P. Yetter

    Contributor Level 15

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    1

    Answered . You are really up against it here and i would advise hiring counsel who has experience handling this. I have seen it, time and again, where a pro se person gets run over by the system simply because they do not know the detailed working of the system.

    The questions you ask depend greatly on the issues raised and preserved at the trial level. As of now, no one could assess your chances without knowing the details of those things.

    John Yetter

  2. Thomas Franklin Asch

    Contributor Level 8

    Answered . These are questions you should be posing to your trial attorney. But I can say some things generally. First, there would be no reason for the judgment order to mention bond. To stop enforcement action you have to file a motion to stay enforcement of the judgment and most likely a bond. Another option of halting enforcement is filing bankruptcy, if the amount of the judgment has rendered you insolvent. Bankruptcy automatically stays the enforcement of most judgments. I am concerned at your use of the words “monetary fine” because usually fines, penalties and punitive damages are not dischargeable in bankruptcy.

    As for the appeal, attorneys are usually reluctant to take appeals on a flat fee because of the need to carefully review the record. A lot of hours need to be put in before an attorney who did not try the case can even guess how much work an appeal is likely to be, much less provide an assessment of your chances on appeal. Nor is an attorney likely to agree to act as a consultant. To act as a consultant he or she would need to do nearly as much work as representing you in the appeal with the additional disadvantage that they cannot control what is filed with the court by you based on your interpretation of the advice. It could get them in trouble with malpractice or disciplinary authorities, if they did not investigate whether, for example, the record supported your legal arguments.

    A case in point that might worry an attorney is your emphasis on the judge’s body language and supposed bias. This is not the type of argument an appellate court will find to be the least persuasive. You can only base an appeal on what is in the record, i.e., the transcript of the trial and other hearings, if any, and the papers and orders filed in the case. Your “testimony” on body language will not be considered. The fact that the judge ruled against you is not considered evidence of bias. Your earlier dismissal from the case and reinstatement is curious, but the fact you were in court for trial and represented by an attorney suggests that you retained a direct connection with the case and a few reasons why the judge may have reinstated you as an individual defendant. The fact that the judge brought it up without a motion by the other side could be error, but not necessarily.

    Your trial attorney remains your best resource. Get a referral to an appellate attorney or hear his/her opinions about an appeal.

  3. David Matthew Gotzh

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . At first glance it appears you're going to have an extraordinarily tough time prevailing at the Appellate level. You really only have three areas to appeal; 1) Manifest Weight, 2) Abuse of Discretion, or 3) Misapplication of the Law. If you don't meet any of the above criteria, I'm about 99.9% sure you're won't make it to Oral Arguments.

    Handling an appeal Pro Se is sheer madness. The average rate of success even WITH an attorney are less than 50%, your odds going pro se, on a purely historical level, are Jack and squat, and Jack just left town.

    Opposing counsel may try to go after you for attorney fees if they feel your appeal is without merit. So talk to an attorney that handles appeals YESTERDAY.

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