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Darling v. Reinert

APRIL 13, 1971.




APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Kane County; the Hon. PAUL W. SCHNAKE and the Hon. JOHN CHIVARI, Judges, presiding.


This is an appeal from the order entered by Magistrate Schnake on April 10th, 1970 vacating the order of default entered by Magistrate Zettinger on April 9, 1970, and a subsequent order of judgment for the defendants entered April 16, 1970. Attorney Charles A. Darling filed the complaint against the defendant on February 27th, 1970. Summons were issued, served returnable at 10:00 o'clock on March 20th, 1970. On March 20th the defendant filed his appearance at 11:00 o'clock on that morning. However, Attorney Darling had appeared and an order of default had been entered prior to the filing of the appearance of the defendant. Subsequently the defendant filed a motion to vacate the default which was not opposed by Mr. Darling. The default was vacated and the matter set for hearing at 1:00 o'clock on April 9th, 1970. Attorney Darling appeared at that time with his witnesses and at 1:40 he proved up his complaint before Magistrate Zettinger. It then appears that the defendant was present with his Counsel, Mr. Peter Zamis, but was not in the Court room; Mr. Zamis being under the impression the matter had been set for 2:00 o'clock. Mr. Zamis within a few minutes after 1:40 met Mr. Darling and they went before Magistrate Zettinger who refused to vacate the judgment which he had just entered. Attorney Zamis then went before Magistrate Schnake with Attorney Darling and Magistrate Schnake apparently said "Forget it, I have already taken care of it." Magistrate Schnake does not recall whether Dr. Darling was present when he recalls that "he advised Magistrate Zettinger that he was going to vacate the order of default." Mr. Darling insists that Magistrate Schnake did not make that statement.

Thereupon, Magistrate Schnake, on his own motion, vacated the order of default entered by Magistrate Zettinger and set the matter for hearing on April 16th, 1970. Plaintiff on April 14, 1970, moved the court to set aside the April 10, 1970 order vacating the order of dismissal. Magistrate Schnake denied this motion. Mr. Darling stood on the record and refused to appear or take part in the April 16th hearing. The April 16th hearing was before Magistrate John Chivari who entered a judgment for the defendants, and entered an order that the lawyers for the defendant be reimbursed in the sum of $50.00.

The first question presented is as to whether Magistrate Schnake could vacate the order of dismissal of Magistrate Zettinger, both being Magistrates of the same Court. In Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern R.R. Company v. Town of Marseilles (1883), 107 Ill. 313 a similar question was presented. The Supreme Court there stated:

"While it is true that one judge presided at the trial and another passed on the motion for a new trial, the court was all the time one and the same court * * * McRoberts was one of the three circuit judges of the circuit in which the case was tried, and in the discharge of his duties as circuit judge he possessed the same and all the judicial powers which were possessed by the judge who presided when the cause was tried."

In the case of Ricchichi v. City of Chicago (1964), 49 App.2d 320, 199 N.E.2d 652, the Court stated:

"It is of no moment that the judge to whom the case was assigned for trial vacated the new trial order entered by the judge who presided at the first trial. A trial judge is not bound by the prior order of another judge. He has the right to review the prior order if in his judgment it was erroneous and he has the duty to do so if changed facts or circumstances make the prior order unjust. [Citations.]"

See also Scardina v. Colletti (1965), (63 Ill. App.2d 481, 211 N.E.2d 762) which cites the above with approval.

• 1 There is no question but that Magistrate Schnake could vacate the order entered by another Magistrate at the same term in the same court.

Turning then to the question whether the magistrate could in fact set aside the order of dismissal on his own motion.

In Krieger v. Krieger (1906), 221 Ill. 479, 77 N.E. 909 the Court said:

"During the term at which a judgment or decree is entered the record remains in the breast of the court, and the court may, at any time during the term, amend it or set it aside on its own motion or for good cause shown, as justice and the right of the case may seem to require."

It would appear that Magistrate Schnake, who was cognizant with the factual time situation involved before Magistrate Zettinger, in his discretion, and on his own motion, vacated the order of default. Further, he apparently personally prepared the order vacating the order of default of Magistrate Zettinger and entered the order the next day on April 10th, 1970. The right of Judge Schnake, in his discretion, and upon his own motion to set aside a default is inherent in the Court. People v. Weber (1949), 403 Ill. 331 86 N.E.2d 202:

"Under the civil practice act, the court may in its discretion before final judgment set aside any default and may within 30 days after entry of judgment set aside any judgment or decree upon good cause shown. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1947, ch. 110, par. 174(7).) The term "Court" as used in the Civil Practice Act does not mean any particular judge but means the ...

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