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People v. Martin-trigona

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 19, 1980.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

ANTHONY R. MARTIN-TRIGONA, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. DONALD W. MORTHLAND, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE TRAPP DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 20, 1981.

Defendant appeals from the order of the trial court finding him in criminal contempt and imposing a sentence of 4 months' imprisonment and a fine of $500.

The events found to constitute contempt occurred May 4, 1973, and June 25, 1973. All of the evidence of defendant's conduct is disclosed in the several reports of proceedings of matters occurring in open court. The trial court took judicial notice of the records without objection by defendant.

The court found that the following several acts were "calculated to and did embarrass, obstruct and hinder the Court in the prompt and efficient administration of justice, and was [were] calculated to and did bring the administration of justice into disrepute;" in the following particulars: (1) On May 4, 1973, defendant committed the offense of contempt in that he said in open court, "Your Honor, I believe that you have, in one fell swoop, repealed both the law that applies in this state and the common law"; (2) that on May 4, 1973, the defendant committed the offense of contempt in that he stated in open court, "Thank you, Your Honor. If you wish to hold yourself in contempt of Federal Court * * *"; (3) that on May 4, 1973, defendant committed the offense of contempt in that he stated in open court, "The Judge is trying to intimidate me," and again stated, "* * * on so hearing, the Judge again threatened and intimidated me by saying that he would act in contempt of Court, * * * and proceed with the case, despite the plain mandate of Federal law"; (4) that on May 4, 1973, the defendant committed the offense of contempt in that he stated in open court and to the court, "I hope they are paying you well for this fixed case"; (5) that on May 4, 1973, the defendant committed the offense of contempt in that he stated to the court reporter, an officer of the court, in open court, "Can I get a transcript of this hearing before it gets doctored?" and (6) that on June 25, 1973, the defendant committed the offense of contempt in that he failed, after due notice, to appear for an allotted hearing on the rule to show cause why he should not be held in contempt.

The underlying cause originated when defendant was charged with assault and disorderly conduct in 1972. The matter has proceeded at bizarre length, essentially through defendant's exploitation of petitions to remove the several aspects of the case to the Federal court. Such successive petitions are shown to be without merit in the fact that each was ultimately dismissed and the cause remanded to the circuit court. The record shows numerous judges serving upon successive assignments by the supreme court or upon recusal of certain judges.

The contemptuous conduct was charged as occurring on May 4 at a pretrial hearing on defendant's motions. On May 8, defendant filed a petition for removal to the Federal court. That petition was dismissed and the cause remanded on June 15, 1973. Defendant failed to appear at a hearing on June 25. The then assigned judge found that defendant had actual notice of that hearing. On July 23, 1973, defendant again filed a petition to remove the cause to the Federal District Court. A hearing and a finding of contempt on September 24, 1975, was reversed when the trial judge was not advised of that pending removal petition. (People v. Martin-Trigona (1976), 36 Ill. App.3d 482, 344 N.E.2d 225.) The removal petition was dismissed by the Federal District Court and remanded to the circuit court on March 1, 1977.

Defendant contends that the pleadings upon which defendant was tried were not verified and hence void. He cites People v. Harrison (1949), 403 Ill. 320, 328, 86 N.E.2d 208, 212, for the rule that it "was incumbent in proceedings for indirect contempt to have the information, petition or affidavit positively verified * * *." That statement was directed to the fact extrinsic evidence was required to establish perjury.

Here, the original petition contained, as exhibits, copies of the records in the trial court and citations to the report of proceedings certified by the court reporter. The amended petition alleges conduct reflected in the reports of proceedings which were introduced into evidence at the hearing upon contempt charges.

• 1, 2 The record discloses that this issue was not raised in defendant's motion to dismiss the amended petition and was not preserved in defendant's post-trial motions. Upon such circumstances the issue argued may be treated as waived. (People v. Pickett (1973), 54 Ill.2d 280, 296 N.E.2d 856.) In Debowski v. Shred Pax Corp. (1977), 45 Ill. App.3d 891, 359 N.E.2d 204, it was argued that the trial court was without jurisdiction because of a want of proper verification. The reviewing court held that where defendant had notice and an opportunity to answer and be heard, the verification was not essential. Defendant's claim that the unverified charges were void is without merit.

• 3 Defendant contends that no rule to show cause was entered and that defendant was tried without being formally charged. Defendant appeared by counsel and participated in the hearings without raising the issue in the trial court. Again, the issue was not preserved in defendant's post-trial motions. The issue may be treated as waived. Pickett.

Defendant argues that the trial court erred in refusing to dismiss the charges for the failure to prosecute within one year and six months. It is asserted that contempt is a misdemeanor and that the statute of limitations in section 3-5 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 3-5) provides the limitation of one year and six months for misdemeanor. The defendant's argued conclusion is erroneous under the authorities.

A court has the power to punish for contempt without statutory authority. (People v. Seymour (1916), 272 Ill. 295, 111 N.E. 1008; People v. Siegal (1948), 400 Ill. 208, 79 N.E.2d 616.) The power to punish for contempt is inherent in the court as an essential incident to the administration of judicial power. People v. Sunnen (1978), 56 Ill. App.3d 727, 372 N.E.2d 448.

Defendant cites no statutory limitation directed to the inherent power of a court to punish for contempt. Section 1-3 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1-3) provides that no conduct "constitutes an offense" unless so described in that Code. Section 3-5 (Ill. Rev. Stat. ...


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