Judgment Reversal Based Upon Closing Argument Despite the Defendant's' Failure to Object

In Belfield v. Coop, our Illinois Supreme Court found that reversal was warranted based upon the plaintiff's closing argument despite the defendants' failure to object. In closing argument, the defendant in Belfield were characterized as "thieves," "usurpers," and "defrauders." Repeated references were also made regarding one of defendants' counsel as "Sammy" Saxon, and further argued that Saxon was not a reputable attorney. Our Illinois Supreme Court explained that "the plaintiff's attorneys not only belittled opposing counsel, and their standards of ethics and conduct; one of plaintiff's counsel, a county judge from a neighboring county, inferred that his client should win the case because he was a judge and had extensive experience with the law." The court found that "so much of this argument was prejudicial and unwarranted that a duty devolved upon the court to inject itself into the proceedings sufficient to see that the litigants received a fair trial." Belfield, 8 Ill. 2d 293, 134 N.E.2d 249.