Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. No. 92-L-436. Honorable John W. Rapp, Jr., Harris H. Agnew, Judges, Presiding.
As Corrected May 29, 1996. Rehearing Denied July 12, 1996. Released for Publication July 12, 1996.
Presiding Justice Holdridge delivered the opinion of the court: McCUSKEY, J., concurs. Justice Lytton, specially concurring:
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Holdridge
PRESIDING JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the opinion of the court:
Plaintiff, Gary Kaeding, appeals from two orders of the circuit court of Winnebago County, which adjudged him to be in direct criminal contempt of court and sentenced him to consecutive sentences of 30 days' and 90 days' imprisonment. We affirm in part and reverse in part.
Plaintiff appeared pro se before Judge Harris Agnew concerning a civil matter. At a June 7, 1993, hearing, plaintiff handed Judge Agnew several documents, including one entitled "affirmation of prejudice and bias and demand for substitution of Judge Agnew based on cause" (pleading). The record indicates that Judge Agnew reviewed the documents and specifically stated the following as to the pleading:
"THE COURT: I would refer the record to paragraphs 22 first, 22(b). *** the undersigned states the following: That upon information and belief Judge Agnew placed Deborah Kaeding in a home where he knew she would be sexually molested.
(d) That when Deborah Kaeding, the wife of Gary Kaeding, was a child, upon information and belief Judge Agnew, threatened her into signing a paper allowing her to be adopted by Ray and Chris Gough after Deborah Kaeding had told Judge Agnew of her fear of Ray Gough.
[(e)] That upon information and belief, Judge Harris Agnew knew that Judge Moore had heard a case, Ogle County case, State of Illinois versus Jimmy L. Higdon, case 87-CF-91, wherein Jimmy Higdon had been charged with raping Deborah Kaeding when he chose John L. Moore to hear the case against Gary Kaeding in Boone County.
(g) That upon information and belief, Judge Agnew was aware of the sexual molestation of Kirsten Kaeding, daughter of Gary Kaeding, by Federal Judge Phillip G. Reinhard, State's Attorney Paul Logli, and other officers of Winnebago County Court.
(h) That upon information and belief Judge Agnew is aware of a criminal conspiracy wherein officers of the Winnebago County Court are sexually molesting children.
(i) That Judge Agnew knew or had a duty to know that John L. Moore was an evil and corrupt Judge who had determined in the Higdon case that sworn testimony of the victim Deborah Kaeding, along with collaborating testimony, was not sufficient evidence to require the rapist to enter a defense. Number 23 paragraph. That Judge Agnew was aware and present when Gary Kaeding was attacked, assaulted and beaten by the court bailiffs in Judge Nielsen's courtroom because he had asked for a court reporter.
25. That the undersigned is in fear of his life, liberty, and property under any and all authority of Judge Harris Agnew.
26. That the undersigned is in fear that he would be imprisoned and/or killed for speaking the truth."
Thereafter, Judge Agnew made the following determination concerning the above mentioned allegations:
"THE COURT: These allegations in this pleading are preposterous, totally untrue from the Court's knowledge. I'm not aware of any of these things. They're outrageous. These comments are *** made to embarrass or obstruct the Court in it's (sic) administration of justice, to degregate sic the authority of the Court in it's (sic) dignity, to bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
I consider this pleading direct contempt of court because the allegations are directed towards this Court, this Judge.
I'm going to order that a Rule to Show Cause be issued as to why Mr. Kaeding shouldn't be held in contempt of court.
I'm going to *** assign a Judge outside of this circuit to hear case 92-L-436; and the first matter to be heard will be the Rule to Show Cause on Mr. Kaeding for direct contempt ***."
Over plaintiff's objection, Judge Agnew appointed the public defender to represent plaintiff, and plaintiff's case appeared before Judge John Rapp in July 1993. At a July 14, 1993, hearing, Judge Rapp discharged the public defender and appointed attorney Craig Sahlstrom (Sahlstrom) at plaintiff's request.
At a July 15, 1993, hearing, plaintiff alleged that Sahlstrom failed to assist him in preparation for the hearing, and he presented to the bailiff, who handed to Judge Rapp, a "motion to vacate order and rule to show cause." ...