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In Re Sarelas

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 30, 1971.

IN RE PETER S. SARELAS, ATTORNEY, RESPONDENT.


Disciplinary proceeding.

PER CURIAM:

This is a disciplinary proceeding in which the respondent, Peter S. Sarelas, is charged with having brought the legal profession and the judiciary into disrepute by initiating and maintaining numerous groundless and defamatory lawsuits against judges, lawyers, and private citizens. The Committee on Grievances of the Chicago Bar Association, as Commissioners of the Supreme Court under Rule 751 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 110A, par. 751), has recommended that the respondent be disbarred.

The evidence of such lawsuits consisted largely of the various complaints filed by the respondent, and the adjudicative dispositions of them. A recitation in haec verba of portions of the allegations of certain of the complaints filed by the respondent, even though it unduly lengthens this opinion, furnishes an exegesis of the basis of the charges. The following language is illustrative of the allegations and the nature of the suits.

In 1958, the respondent sought $100,000 in damages against 19 defendants, eight of whom were lawyers, charging conspiracy, defamation, assault and battery. The trial court dismissed the complaint insofar as the allegations of conspiracy and defamation were concerned, and ultimately entered summary judgment for the defendants on the charge of assault and battery. The respondent's appeal was dismissed in this court. In his subsequent appeal from the assessment of costs against him, the Appellate Court, First Judicial District, felt compelled to state: "In some of these documents the plaintiff attempts to readjudicate the issues found adversely to him in the original action; in some he injects excerpts from extraneous litigation participated in by him as a party or by the defendants as attorneys, and all of them are interlaced with abuse of the lawyer-defendants who are repetitiously charged with deception, fraud and perjury. There is no excuse for such documents and there is no reason for this court to wade through a mire of irrelevant matters and scurrilous attacks in order to extricate the substance of the plaintiff's contentions. If further motions of the same type are filed in this case they will be stricken." Sarelas v. Gekas, 42 Ill. App.2d 136, 138.

In 1960, the respondent sought $300,000 in damages against two lawyers and a layman, claiming he was libeled by answers to written interrogatories in another lawsuit. The charges in the complaint, similar to those made in subsequent lawsuits, recited that the defendants: "* * * willfully, wantonly, maliciously, evilly, fraudulently, and corruptly combined, conspired, confederated and agreed with each other to defame, libel, insult, intimidate and injure plaintiff by making or causing to be made false, base, scurrilous and dastardly attacks upon the character of the plaintiff in the written answers to certain interrogatories propounded to the co-defendant herein, Basil Christoforacos * * * which said answers were known by defendants and each of them to be totally false, malicious, fraudulent and corrupt fabrications when made, calculated to defame, libel, insult, intimidate and injure the plaintiff * * * and were known by the defendants to be irrelevant and impertinent to the issues in said claim." This case was dismissed in the trial court and the dismissal affirmed. Sarelas v. Makin, 32 Ill. App.2d 339.

In 1961, he sued 21 persons, seven of whom were lawyers, for allegedly having libeled him in exhibits filed in another lawsuit. The complaint charged: "That the said defendants and each of them, contriving and wrongfully, illegally, wickedly and maliciously intending to injure, harm, oppress, torment, ruin and destroy the plaintiff and to obstruct, pervert, hinder, impede and offend the process of the Court and the conduct of said cause 58 C 17505, then and now pending, and the due administration of justice, did unlawfully, wickedly and maliciously combine, conspire, confederate and agree together to falsely fabricate evidence under the guise and pretext of `corrections' of the minutes of the October 31, 1958 meeting of the Hellenic Professional Society of Illinois * * * All of which was knowingly and intentionally calculated to defame, libel, intimidate, torment, oppress, injure and induce an evil opinion of the plaintiff in the minds of right-thinking persons, knowing that said statements were false, fraudulent, corrupt and malicious fabrications when made, composed, written, circulated and published." This case was likewise dismissed and the dismissal affirmed. Sarelas v. Alexander, 37 Ill. App.2d 436.

Also, in 1961, the respondent filed suit against the Greek Counsul General in Chicago seeking $100,000 in damages for the defendant having purportedly: "* * * intentionally, wantonly, maliciously, fraudulently and corruptly for the purpose of impeding, hindering, obstructing or defeating the due course of public justice and with intent to injure, oppress and intimidate the plaintiff from enforcing his right to (his) legal remedies * * *." This too was dismissed, and the dismissal affirmed. Sarelas v. Rocanas (7th cir. 1962), 311 F.2d 36.

In 1962, he sought $200,000 in damages from a master in chancery for allegedly having intentionally, fraudulently, corruptly and maliciously violated his civil rights in falsely certifying to his testimony taken before the master. He further asserted that the master knew that the testimony had been altered and falsified. Summary judgment was granted for the defendant and affirmed on appeal. Sarelas v. Sheehan (7th cir. 1963), 326 F.2d 490.

In 1962, the respondent also sued 14 persons, 13 of whom were lawyers, seeking $200,000 in damages and charging them with improper conduct and abuse of process in presenting to a court his depositions taken by virtue of another court order. The complaint alleged, inter alia: "That the defendant in the acts above stated acted wantonly, intentionally, maliciously, fraudulently, falsely, and corruptly by virtue whereof the plaintiff is entitled to exemplary or punitive damages." This case was likewise dismissed and the dismissal affirmed. Sarelas v. Porikos (7th cir. 1963), 320 F.2d 827.

In 1963, he sued a judge of the superior court of Cook County in the United States District Court for $200,000 in damages. He alleged, among other things: "That the defendant, John J. Lupe, who on other occasions was a judge * * * contrived to discriminate against the plaintiff and to damage plaintiff * * * by allowing, approving and consenting to the use * * * of a spurious, illegal and fraudulent document * * * by allowing, approving and condoning the subjection of plaintiff to an ordeal by intimidation, defamation, insult and abuse * * * by making an arbitrary and unfounded recital in the guise, color and pretense of an order, containing nonexistent and supposed facts, which the defendant * * * used and allowed approved and condoned such recital to be used * * * as an instrument of wrongdoing, and of derogation, defamation and denunciation * * * That the language and terms allowed, approved and condoned to be used * * * in such ordeal, are obscene, opprobrious and immoral * * * deprived the plaintiff of the right to judicial proceedings, and of the right to adversary judicial hearing * * * upon pretended consideration of a fraudulent document which the defendant himself had actively encouraged and assisted * * * to accumulate, knowing that it contained multitudinous alterations, deletions, and fabrications ingeniously calculated to discredit the plaintiff * * * made and entered a void, arbitrary, and fraudulent edict to discriminate against the plaintiff and to damage plaintiff * * * that the defendant knew that the pretended judicial proceedings were a sham and a nullity calculated to deprive the plaintiff of his reputation and his property * * * knowing that they included falsely fabricated documents * * * he then proceeded, under pretense of being a judge, to pretend to consider such documents and transcript, knowing all the time that said documents and transcript were frauds upon the court * * * contrived to malignantly and wickedly discriminate against the plaintiff and to intimidate, defame and denounce the plaintiff * * * in using said arbitrary and fraudulently begotten edict as an instrument of wrongdoing to defame, discredit, abuse, intimidate and injure the plaintiff * * * contrived to malignantly and wickedly discriminate against the plaintiff and declared his deep and violent prejudice against the plaintiff as a United States citizen of the Greek race * * * That the defendant committed all of the aforesaid acts to oppress, harass, injure, defame, and vilify plaintiff * * * That the defendant in the acts above stated acted knowingly, intentionally, discriminatorily, willfully and maliciously, * * * the plaintiff was oppressed, harassed, intimidated, defamed, disparaged and villified * * * Said `kangaroo court' is conducted in a room in the County Building and is conducted by a person pretending to be a judge and who on other occasions is a state court judge * * * The defendant, John J. Lupe, * * * contrived to wickedly and malignantly terrorize, slander, menace, revile, oppress and denounce the plaintiff, under the sham and pretense of being a judge, and knowingly without judicial authority and in absence of jurisdiction." This case was also dismissed and the dismissal affirmed on appeal on May 25, 1965, by an announcement from the bench by the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in case No. 14878.

In 1963, he sued an attorney for $300,000 alleging: "That the said words `this is a lie' spoken and published by defendant, THEMIS ANAGNOST, in combination with said mob en masse were false, malicious, destructive and injurious and were so spoken and published with intent to injure, destroy, defame the plaintiff in his person, good name, credit, reputation and property and to intimidate, menace, threaten, harass and oppress plaintiff with intent to deny him the Equal Protection of the Laws. * * * that the said statement * * * was wholly false and defamatory and injurious, wickedly and evilly spoken and published and impertinent. * * * Plaintiff was defamed, vilified, oppressed, harassed, and intimidated and brought into public scandal and disgrace and he was greatly injured and harmed in his person, good name, credit, reputation and profession, and he was caused to sustain great mental anguish, torment, distress, humiliation, pain and mortification * * *." This case was dismissed in the trial court, and on appeal to this court as case number 39215, entitled Peter S. Sarelas v. Themis Anagnost, the appeal was dismissed May 13, 1965, on motion of appellee.

In 1963, the respondent also sued the same defendant in the Federal court on the same basis as asserted in the action brought in the State court. This suit likewise was dismissed, and the dismissal affirmed on appeal. Sarelas v. Anagnost (7th cir. 1964), 332 F.2d 111.

In 1964, he filed a petition for writ of mandamus and/or prohibition in the Supreme Court of the United States against the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and John S. Hastings, Elmer J. Schnackenberg and Luther M. Swygert, Circuit Judges, charging that in litigation in which he was involved, the court "persistently" issued opinions with statements directly opposite to the facts in the record. The respondent also charged that the court knowingly made recitals contrary to the record and knowingly relied upon a "patently perjurious affidavit" to shield a master in chancery who committed intentional torts against him. The relief sought in the petition was denied. Sarelas v. United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, 377 U.S. 926, 12 L.Ed.2d 303, 84 S.Ct. 1346.

In 1964, the respondent filed a second action against the same master in Chancery for allegedly intimidating, oppressing, defaming, ruining and vilifying him in his profession as an attorney. Therein he sought damages in the sum of $300,000. This suit was also dismissed and ...


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