Court of Appeal of Illinois, First District, Third Division
Sinson Law Group (Kent D. Sinson, of counsel), and Joanna C. Fryer, both of Chicago, for appellant.
SmithAmundsen LLC, of Chicago (Michael Resis and Ryan B. Jacobson, of counsel), for appellees.
Collins Bargione & Vuckovich, of Chicago (George B. Collins, of counsel), for respondent.
Justice PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Hyman specially concurred, with opinion.
¶ 1 Two intemperate submissions filed in this court caused us to issue an order to show cause why sanctions should not be imposed on the attorney who prepared and filed them. The timely filed response contained an apology to the court; however, the response indicates a lack of appreciation of the harm inflicted on the judicial system by incivility and unprofessional conduct. We review what occurred as a reminder to all attorneys and litigants of the necessity of civility and professionalism in all aspects of litigation, including appellate advocacy.
¶ 2 Respondent, attorney Kent D. Sinson, on behalf of Mr. Talamine filed a multicount complaint in the circuit court of Cook County that included claims alleging malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants on these two counts and further ordered that plaintiff would be barred from seeking punitive damages on the remaining counts. Plaintiff dismissed the remaining counts and filed an appeal of the summary judgment ruling. In the interim, the trial judge was appointed by our Supreme Court to the position of Appellate Court Justice of the First Judicial District. After full briefing, and without oral argument, we affirmed the grant of summary judgment by the
[377 Ill.Dec. 206] trial court and declined to address the interlocutory order regarding punitive damages in an unpublished order pursuant to Rule 23 (Ill. S.Ct. R. 23 (eff. July 1, 2011)). Talamine v. Apartment Finders, Inc., 2013 IL App (1st) 121201-U, 2013 WL 3875320.
¶ 3 Our order was filed pursuant to Rule 23. This rule generally provides that appeals may be disposed of by written opinion, written order or by written summary order. The rule further directs this court that a case may be disposed of by an opinion " only when a majority of the panel deciding the case determines that at least one of the following criteria is satisfied: (1) the decision establishes a new rule of law or modifies, explains or criticizes an existing rule of law; or (2) the decision resolves, creates, or avoids an apparent conflict of authority within the Appellate Court." Ill. S.Ct. R. 23 (eff. July 1, 2011). A Rule 23 order is not precedential and may be cited only " to support contentions of double jeopardy, res judicata, collateral estoppel or law of the case." Id.
¶ 4 Respondent thereafter filed a motion to publish this order and concurrently filed a petition for rehearing. After a review of the motion and petition, respondent was ordered to file a response and show cause why sanctions should not be imposed pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 375 (eff. Feb. 1, 1994) (A reviewing court may impose a sanction upon a party or an attorney for a party on the reviewing court's own initiative where the court deems it appropriate. If the reviewing court initiates the sanction, it shall require the party or attorney, or both, to show cause why such a sanction should not be imposed before imposing the sanction.). Respondent timely filed his response.
¶ 5 The motion to publish and the petition for rehearing were signed, certified and filed by respondent, a licensed attorney in this state. Contained in these filings were the following statements: that an " opinion [ sic ] issued without oral argument and filed pursuant to Rule 23(b) does not suggest ‘ openness' " ; that " petitions for rehearing never get granted [and] it seems doubtful that any members of the reviewing court even read the petitions for rehearing" ; that Sinson is " troubled" because this court was reviewing " the decision of a fellow member of the [appellate court]" which, " for [t]hat reason alone suggests a possible need for recusal" ; and that this court " completely" misstated " the facts by omitting facts it finds inconvenient" and issued this order knowing " its recitation of the facts is a gross distortion of the record and a gross distortion of the Plaintiff's arguments" done because " [p]erhaps this Court felt it was more important to maintain a friendly relationship with their colleague down the hallway than it was to do justice in a case that did not personally involve them." Mr. Sinson also accused this court of " dishonest assumptions," " hypocrisy," " making false and misleading" statements, and asserted this court is not " serious about following the law."
¶ 6 In the response filed by counsel for Mr. Sinson, and signed by Mr. Sinson, respondent explains that the facts of the underlying case were such that he " expected to present a case" but was ruled against in the trial court and in this court and he " believed his treatment unfair" and he " exploded, on paper." He advises us that an " [O]pinion [ sic ] under Rule 23(e)(1) is discretionary, and no inference adverse to the Court arises from ‘ Rule 23’ " ; the " implication that members of the Panel did not read the Petition for Rehearing is wrong" ; his complaint that the " ...