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10/30/96 W. ROBERT BLAIR v. BENJAMIN S. MACKOFF

October 30, 1996

W. ROBERT BLAIR, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
BENJAMIN S. MACKOFF, PRESIDING JUDGE OF THE DOMESTIC RELATIONS OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, RICHARD BERLAND, JUDGE OF THE DOMESTIC RELATIONS DIVISION OF THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY, ILLINOIS, AND PATRICIA G. BLAIR, DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Lester Foreman, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication December 10, 1996.

Presiding Justice Tully delivered the opinion of the court. Cerda and Gallagher, JJ., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tully

PRESIDING JUSTICE TULLY delivered the opinion of the court:

Plaintiff, W. Robert Blair, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County granting the motion to dismiss of defendants, Benjamin S. Mackoff, Presiding Judge of the Domestic Relations of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, and Richard Berland, Judge of the Domestic Relations Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, pursuant to section 2-619(a) (9) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(9) (West 1994)). Jurisdiction is vested in this court pursuant to section 6 of article VI of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, ยง 6) and Supreme Court Rule 301 (155 Ill. 2d R. 301).

For the reasons which follow, we affirm.

FACTUAL BACKGROUND

In 1990, Patricia Blair (hereinafter Patricia) filed a petition for dissolution of marriage against plaintiff in the circuit court of Cook County. The case was assigned to Judge Robert Berland. In the fall of 1991, Patricia was granted a voluntary dismissal.

In 1993, Patricia again filed a dissolution of marriage action against Robert. The case was randomly assigned to Calendar B, Judge Aubrey Kaplan, pursuant to Circuit Court of Cook County General Order 15.3, which provides that each case filed in the circuit court's Domestic Relations Division shall be assigned by the clerk of the circuit court to a calendar by random electronic process. Each judge in the Domestic Relations Division is assigned to a team and to a calendar within each team. Each judge who works with preliminary matters is assigned to a lettered calendar, and each trial judge is assigned to a numbered calendar.

After the initial assignment of the Blair matter, the case was reassigned to Judge Berland, pursuant to Domestic Relations Division General Order 90-D-2, which provides that "cases between the same parties refiled in the Domestic Relations Division shall be transferred to the same preliminary [lettered] and/or trial [numbered] calendar on which the prior case was last pending regardless of the identity of allegations contained in the petition or the relief sought." General Order 90-D-2 took effect on June 12, 1990.

Abe's Log Cabin, Ltd., of which plaintiff owned a 51% controlling interest, had become involved in the litigation and filed a motion to substitute Judge Berland, which was heard on January 13, 1995. On that day Judge Berland granted the motion and assigned the case to the clerk of the circuit court for random electronic assignment to a preliminary calendar other than Calendar E. Prior to the time that Judge Berland assigned the case to the clerk, he ruled on a number of motions in the case, including plaintiff's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, which he denied.

The case was then randomly assigned to Team A, Judge Sheldon Gardner. Thereafter plaintiff filed a motion to substitute Judge Gardner as a matter of right. Judge Gardner granted the motion and transferred the case to the presiding judge for reassignment. The case was then randomly assigned to Team C, Judge Philip Bronstein. Judge Bronstein heard plaintiff's motion to reconsider Judge Berland's earlier denial of plaintiff's motion to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Judge Bronstein found Illinois courts did have jurisdiction.

Thereafter, plaintiff filed a motion to reconsider Judge Bronstein's order that Illinois has subject matter jurisdiction. Plaintiff argued that he had become a resident of the Dominican Republic and that Patricia was a resident of Indiana. Plaintiff also argued that there was nothing for the court to adjudicate as he had previously obtained a divorce from Patricia in the Dominican Republic. All of the judges dealing with this issue found that the Dominican decree lacked integrity and refused to afford it comity.

Judge Bronstein conducted hearings during the months of February and March of 1995 on Patricia's motions for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to prevent plaintiff from withdrawing all assets from the jurisdiction. In March 1995, after a hearing, Judge Bronstein granted Patricia's motion for a preliminary injunction. At the hearing on Patricia's motion, plaintiff filed a motion to stay ...


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