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Hasty v. Kilpatrick





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Schuyler County; the Hon. Robert L. Welch, Judge, presiding.


This litigation arises out of an intersection collision in the city of Rushville on December 5, 1980. Suit was filed by the plaintiffs in the circuit court of Schuyler County, and defendant filed a counterclaim. Plaintiffs' suit was for personal injuries and property damage; defendant's counterclaim was for property damage only. The case was tried to a jury which returned verdicts in favor of the defendant on both the complaint and the counterclaim. Plaintiffs have appealed.

Before proceeding to the merits of the appeal, we are called upon to untangle a procedural snarl which has little reason for being. The jury returned its verdicts on June 5, 1984, and upon receiving them, the trial judge announced in open court, "Judgment will be entered on the verdict. [Sic.]" No mention was made of a written order. Nevertheless, a written order was prepared; according to counsel, it was done by the trial judge himself; it was filed-stamped by the circuit clerk on June 8, 1984.

Along with the written order there also appears the following docket entry:

"6-08-84 Welch Cause comes on for hearing as to jury trial Evans on June 4, 1984. Twelve jurors selected ORDER SIGNED and parties and counsel agree to no alternate. JUNE 5, 1984. Evidence adduced on June 4 and 5, and arguments heard on June 5. Jury retires to deliberate at approximately 2:14 P.M.. At approximately 4:28 P.M. the jury returns with a verdict. The jury finds on the complaint for the defendant and against the plaintiffs. On the counter-complaint the jury finds for the counter-complainant and against the defendant, Minnie Hasty, in the amount of $570.24. Judgment is entered on the verdicts, signed."

The question posed is: when did the judgment order become appealable? The notice of appeal was filed July 9, 1984; if the order became appealable on June 8, 1984, the notice is timely (July 8, 1984, being a Sunday); if the order became appealable on June 5, 1984, the notice is not timely. The appellee filed a motion to dismiss based upon the latter hypothesis. That motion was denied by this court on July 16, 1984. The appellee renewed the motion on November 2, 1984, and it was ordered taken with the case. We now deny the renewed motion.

The matter is controlled by Supreme Court Rule 272 (87 Ill.2d R. 272), which provides:

"If at the time of announcing final judgment the judge requires the submission of a form of written judgment to be signed by him, the clerk shall make a notation to that effect and the judgment becomes final only when the signed judgment is filed. If no such signed written judgment is to be filed, the judge or clerk shall forthwith make a notation of judgment and enter the judgment of record promptly, and the judgment is entered at the time it is entered of record."

The rule admits of only two possibilities: (1) a written order is required, or (2) it is not and judgment is entered when it becomes of record. There is nothing in this record to indicate that the trial judge ever required a written order. Therefore, the order prepared by him becomes a nullity. Its only value is to corroborate by the file stamp which it bears the docket entry of the same date.

• 1 This court held in Drulard v. Country Cos. (1981), 99 Ill. App.3d 1031, 426 N.E.2d 347, that in counties in which record keeping is governed by a general administrative order of the Illinois Supreme Court (of which Schuyler County is one), entry in the record sheet, or docket, is the judgment of record. It follows in the case at bar that the entry date is June 8, 1984, as indicated by the docket. The fact that the docket also indicates that a written order was signed on June 5, 1984, is immaterial since no written order was required.

Attached to the appellee's motion to dismiss is a document entitled "Money Judgment." Included on that document is this case with the date indicated as June 5, 1984. From this, appellee argues that judgment in the instant case was entered of record on that date. We disagree.

Part I(C)(12) of the "General Administrative Order on Recordkeeping in the Circuit Courts" (Ill. Ann. Stat., ch. 25, par. 16, at 26 (Smith-Hurd Supp. 1983)) provides for a "Money Judgment Index" (emphasis added). The judgment itself is provided for in Part I(D)(2)(b)(6) of the same general administrative order. By its very nature, an index is a list of references together with a notation as to where they may be found in its related work. Apart from the work to which it is related, it is itself meaningless.

• 2 We hold that an entry in an index is not an entry of record of a judgment within the meaning of Supreme Court Rule 272.

For all the foregoing reasons, we find that judgment in this case was entered of record on June 8, 1984; plaintiffs' notice of appeal was therefore timely; and the motion to dismiss and the renewed ...

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