Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, No. 13-OP-2500 Honorable John H. Young and Gwyn Gulley, Judges, Presiding.
JUSTICE JORGENSEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Burke and Hudson concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 Pro se petitioner, Peter Gakuba, filed a verified petition, pursuant to the Stalking No Contact Order Act (Act) (740 ILCS 21/1 et seq. (West 2010)), against respondent, Kate C. Kurtz, the assistant State's Attorney who was prosecuting petitioner for three counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The trial court dismissed the petition. Petitioner timely appealed and raises the following issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in dismissing the petition without allowing petitioner to present evidence; (2) whether the trial court erred in sealing the record; and (3) whether the trial court erred in denying petitioner's motion to substitute judges. Respondent argues that we should strike petitioner's brief and dismiss the appeal, based on petitioner's failure to comply with supreme court rules. Respondent also argues that sanctions should be imposed on petitioner for filing a frivolous appeal. For the reasons that follow, we reject petitioner's arguments, as they are either forfeited or unsupported by the record. Further, though we decline respondent's invitation to strike petitioner's brief and dismiss the appeal, we grant respondent's request for sanctions.
¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND
¶ 3 The petition, filed on November 25, 2013, alleged, in pertinent part, the following: (1) respondent told an investigator with the Winnebago County State's Attorney's office that petitioner was harassing her and, on July 23, 2013, when respondent was at the courthouse in Rockford, the investigator approached petitioner and told petitioner that he wanted to speak with him; (2) on July 23, 2013, respondent was in an elevator at the courthouse with petitioner, and respondent "menance[d] [him] with stares and huffs, before leaving"; (3) on November 4, 2006, respondent "supervised a criminal investigation resulting in a warrantless home invasion into [petitioner's] lawfully and privately occupied Marriott hotel room"; and (4) on November 5, 2006, respondent "ordered Ill. state police to commit residential burglary into [petitoner's] Alpine Inn room." Petitioner asked that respondent be disqualified from prosecuting the criminal case against him.
¶ 4 Following an emergency hearing, which took place on November 25, 2013, the trial court (Judge John H. Young) entered an order denying emergency relief, finding that "no emergency circumstances" and "no course of conduct under statute" had been demonstrated. A plenary hearing was set for December 16, 2013.
¶ 5 On November 26, 2013, Judge Young entered an order sealing the case file.
¶ 6 On November 27, 2013, respondent's counsel entered his appearance, and respondent moved to dismiss the petition and strike the hearing date. Respondent argued that, because the court found, at the emergency hearing on the petition, that no course of conduct had been alleged or demonstrated, the matter should be dismissed. On December 2, 2013, the trial court (Judge Gwyn Gulley) granted the motion, dismissing the petition and striking the hearing.
¶ 7 On December 6, 2013, petitioner filed a motion for reconsideration of the dismissal and an amended motion to unseal the case file.
¶ 8 On December 16, 2013, petitioner moved for the substitution for cause of Judges Young and Gulley. Each judge filed an affidavit in response to the motion. On January 14, 2014, Judge Joseph G. McGraw denied the motion for substitution.
¶ 9 On February 24, 2014, Judge Gulley denied petitioner's motion for reconsideration of the dismissal.
¶ 10 On February 25, 2014, respondent filed a motion for sanctions pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 137 (eff. July 1, 2013), arguing, inter alia, that the purpose of the petition was to harass respondent and to unduly delay litigation in that it sought to remove respondent as the prosecutor in his criminal case.
¶ 11 On March 7, 2014, the trial court denied petitioner's motion to unseal the case file, specifically finding that "allegations of contact between Judge Young and Respondent/Counsel are false." The trial court denied various other motions, not related to the present ...