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Waesch v. Elgin

OCTOBER 24, 1962.

WERNER WAESCH, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ELGIN, JOLIET AND EASTERN RAILWAY COMPANY, A CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. WILLIAM J. TUOHY, Judge, presiding. Reversed.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE DEMPSEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Rehearing denied December 11, 1962.

This litigation was started by the plaintiff suing the defendant for damages to his automobile. The evidence was heard on June 4, 1960, by a police magistrate who then took the case under advisement. On July 1, 1960, the magistrate found in favor of the plaintiff. The defendant appealed to the Circuit Court on August 4, 1960. The Circuit Court dismissed the appeal for the reason that it was not taken within 20 days of the magistrate's judgment as provided by statute. Ill Rev Stats (1959), ch 79, sec 116. The defendant appeals from the order of the Circuit Court.

When the magistrate reached his decision on July 1, 1960, he wrote the following letter to the parties:

"Gentlemen:

"After having heard the evidence and examined cases cited by counsel in the matter, I hereby find a judgment in favor of the plaintiff, Werner Waesch, in the amount of $430.16.

"Such amount is broken down as follows:

Cost of Repairs by Schroeder Bros. .. $269.16 Additional Damages to automobile (remaining after above repairs) ..... 150.00 Costs ............................... 11.00 ________ $430.16"

Also on July 1, 1960, the magistrate made the following entry in his docket:

"Parties advised by letter of finding and order in favor of plaintiff and against defendant, with damages and costs to plaintiff in the amount of $430.16."

On July 25, 1960, the magistrate made the following additional entry in his docket:

"Judgment docketed in favor of plaintiff and against defendant in amount of $419.16 and $11.00 costs."

The defendant's position is that the docket entry on July 1st was not a final judgment from which an appeal could be taken; that the entry of July 25th was the final judgment and, therefore, its appeal on August 4, 1960, was within 20 days of the judgment and was in apt time. It further contends that the magistrate lost jurisdiction of the case by taking it under advisement indefinitely.

In support of the last contention the defendant cites two cases which are exactly in point and which we regard as dispositive of this appeal. The cases concern justices of the peace but they are equally applicable to police magistrates. In Hall v. Reber, 36 Ill. 483 (1865), the Supreme Court said that after hearing a case a justice of the peace could take time to reflect upon the evidence or to examine the law, but that if he did so it was necessary that "the adjournment should be for a definite time, and should be announced in open court, that the parties may be present at the decision, in order to take such steps ...


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