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12/18/95 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. JERRY L. BELL

December 18, 1995

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE,
v.
JERRY L. BELL, CONTEMNOR-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 93-CF-1124. Honorable Thomas E. Hogan, Judge, Presiding.

Released for Publication January 19, 1996. Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied April 3, 1996.

The Honorable Justice Colwell delivered the opinion of the court: Hutchinson, J., concurs. Justice Bowman, concurring in part and dissenting in part:

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colwell

The Honorable Justice COLWELL delivered the opinion of the court:

Contemnor, Jerry L. Bell, appeals the order of the circuit court of Kane County finding him in direct criminal contempt of court and sentencing him to six months in jail. The issues on appeal are: (1) whether the contempt order is insufficient when considered in conjunction with the report of proceedings; (2) whether there was sufficient evidence to support a finding of contempt; and (3) whether the sentence in the contempt order is too indefinite and ambiguous. We affirm and remand with directions.

Contemnor was charged with three counts of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4(a) (West 1992)) on August 3, 1993. Contemnor filed a pro se motion for substitution of judges for cause on August 12, 1993. (725 ILCS 5/114-5(d)(West 1992).) In his motion, contemnor stated that he believed Judges Doyle, Puklin, Petersen, Dunn, and Hogan could not give him a fair trial. Contemnor asked in his motion that his case be removed from Judge Doyle's courtroom and that it be assigned to a judge other than those named in his motion.

Judge Doyle recused himself from contemnor's case on August 19, 1993. Contemnor's case was before Judge Puklin for reassignment on August 27, 1993. On that date, Judge Puklin assigned contemnor's case to Judge Dunn. Contemnor's attorney filed a motion for automatic substitution of judges (725 ILCS 5/114-5(a) (West 1992)) on September 2, 1993, asking that the case be assigned to a judge other than Judge Dunn. Contemnor's motion was allowed, and the case was returned to Judge Puklin (who had been named in the contemnor's August 12, 1993, pro se motion for substitution of judges for cause).

On January 5, 1994, the contemnor's attorney told Judge Puklin that he was going to file a motion for substitution of judge for cause. The contemnor's attorney filed a motion for substitution of judge on January 6, 1994, requesting that Judge Puklin be removed for cause. Judge Puklin sent the case to Judge Nottolini for assignment to a judge for a hearing on contemnor's motion for substitution of judge for cause.

Judge Hogan heard contemnor's motion for substitution of judge for cause on January 6, 1994. Judge Hogan denied the motion but granted the contemnor leave to amend the motion in order to specify the allegations regarding prejudice that Judge Puklin exhibited towards the contemnor. During a hearing on January 28, 1994, Judge Hogan asked contemnor's attorney if he was going to file an amended motion. Contemnor attempted to reply, and Judge Hogan stated, "Mr. Bell, I don't want to listen to you." When contemnor continued to talk, Judge Hogan stated:

"Mr. Bell, you open your mouth again, I'm going to hold you in contempt and you're going to be sentenced to at least three months in the county jail after all of your trials are over."

Contemnor's attorney filed an amended motion for substitution of judge for cause on February 4, 1994. The motion expanded upon contemnor's allegations that Judge Puklin was prejudiced and also alleged that Judge Hogan was prejudiced against contemnor. At a hearing before Judge Hogan on February 4, 1994, contemnor's attorney indicated to Judge Hogan that the amended motion also contained allegations that he (Judge Hogan) was prejudiced and biased against the contemnor and, therefore, requested that Judge Hogan not hear the motion and return the matter to Judge Nottolini for reassignment to a judge not named in the amended motion. Judge Hogan denied that request.

Judge Hogan held a hearing on contemnor's amended motion for substitution of judges for cause on February 24, 1994. The hearing began with the prosecutor stating his belief that, in view of the contemnor's allegation that Judge Hogan was prejudiced, the amended motion should be heard by a different judge. Judge Hogan responded:

"So what? What difference does that make? He can name everybody in the whole circuit. Are we going to transfer it to DuPage [sic ] or Cook or California or Hawaii?"

Judge Hogan stated that the only question before him was whether Judge Puklin was prejudiced and proceeded to conduct the hearing.

Before presenting the merits of the motion, contemnor's attorney informed the court that contemnor had told him that his services were unacceptable. Contemnor's attorney asked for leave to withdraw as counsel. When the court asked contemnor whether he had any objections to his attorney withdrawing, contemnor replied that he believed it was improper for Judge Hogan to conduct the hearing because he was named in the motion for substitution of judges for cause. Judge Hogan stated:

"Okay. It's on the record. Do you want Mr. Parkhurst or not?"

Contemnor replied:

"Your Honor, I am not participating on the question whether or not his motion is proper. I am not expressing any opinion one way or the other with regard to that."

Contemnor's attorney attempted to show the court a letter he had received from contemnor expressing contemnor's dissatisfaction with counsel's representation. Contemnor objected on the ground that revealing the letter violated the attorney-client privilege. Judge Hogan asked contemnor whether contemnor objected if his attorney's motion to withdraw was granted. Contemnor responded that Judge Hogan should not rule on counsel's motion because the motion for substitution of judges for cause, naming Judge Hogan, was still pending. Judge Hogan responded:

"Would you like me to assign it to Judge Rehnquist? He is the Chief Judge of the U.S. Supreme Court. Maybe he could do a better job."

Judge Hogan then asked contemnor if he wanted the public defender. Contemnor stated that Judge Hogan should not be ruling on any aspect of the case under ...


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