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04/06/87 In Re Marriage of Gale R. Brown

April 6, 1987



BONNIE S. BROWN, Respondent-Appellee

506 N.E.2d 727, 154 Ill. App. 3d 179, 106 Ill. Dec. 927 1987.IL.449

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County; the Hon. Harry E. Clem, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE LUND delivered the opinion of the court. SPITZ, P.J., and McCULLOUGH, J., concur.


Petitioner, Gale R. Brown, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Champaign County which found that no personal jurisdiction existed over respondent, and ordered the service of summons upon her quashed.

Petitioner filed his petition for dissolution of marriage in the circuit court of Champaign County on August 16, 1985. He listed his address as Rantoul, Illinois, and his employment as the United States Air Force, Chanute Air Force Base. Respondent Bonnie S. Brown's residence was listed as Virginia Beach, Virginia. On August 23, 1985, respondent was personally served with summons by the deputy sheriff for the city of Virginia Beach, State of Virginia.

Respondent filed a special and limited appearance on September 19, 1985, attacking personal jurisdiction because of her non-residence in the State of Illinois. Until September 19, 1985, her only connection with the State of Illinois was letters she wrote and phone calls she made to military personnel at the Chanute Air Force Base.

Petitioner filed an affidavit on October 2, 1985, that stated in part:

"3. That after he was assigned to Chanute Air Force Base, his wife, (Respondent herein) began an active campaign to extort inordinate sums of child support from him and threatened -- in phone calls and letters to Petitioner (received in Champaign County, Illinois) to 'ruin' his Air Force career if he did not pay sums in excess of 40% of his pay.

4. That thereafter, during the summer of 1984, Respondent carried out said threat by phone calls and letters to Petitioner's commander at Chanute Air Force Base accusing (falsely) Petitioner of acts of child molestation [Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 38, pars. 12-15], a civil felony and military General Court Martial offense [Art. 134, Unif. Code of Mil. Justice, 10 USC, sec. 934], which could result in his discharge from the Air Force; that said allegations resulted in an extensive military criminal investigation at Chanute Air Force Base which was resolved in Petitioner's favor."

In addition, petitioner filed an answer to the special and limited appearance contending that because of the actions set forth in the affidavit respondent had submitted herself to the jurisdiction of the Illinois courts.

On March 11, 1986, the trial court ruled that in rem jurisdiction existed, but the court lacked in personam jurisdiction. A docket order was entered on that day quashing the service of summons. A motion to reconsider the jurisdiction question was filed on June 19, 1986, the same date as the hearing on grounds. A docket entry on June 19 indicated the denial. The written judgment of dissolution filed on July 28, 1986, effectively denied the motion for reconsideration. Petitioner's notice to appeal the jurisdiction decision was filed August 27, 1986.

Respondent has filed no brief in this court. However, the record is simple, and the claimed error may be decided on the merits without the brief. First Capitol Mortgage Corp. v. Talandis Construction Corp. (1976), 63 Ill. 2d 128, 133, 345 N.E.2d 493, 495.

Petitioner argues respondent's actions resulted in personal jurisdiction under the provisions of section 2-209 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 2-209). Section 2-209 provides in part:

"(a) Any person, whether or not a citizen or resident of this State, who in person or through an agent does any of the acts hereinafter enumerated, thereby submits such person, and, if an individual, his or her personal representative, to the jurisdiction of the courts of this State as to any cause of action arising from the doing of any of such acts:

(2) The commission of a tortious act within this State;

(5) With respect to actions of dissolution of marriage and legal separation, the maintenance in this State of a matrimonial domicile at the time this cause of action arose or the commission in this ...

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