By Clifford Ward
Special to the Tribune
7:33 PM CST, November 26, 2013
A Kane County man who authorities say tried to bog down the court system with a number of bogus motions and filings was ordered Tuesday to serve a 180-day sentence for contempt of court.
Robert D. Sperlazzo, 63, told the judge who sentenced him that, “I’m the only victim here.”
But the judge, Val Gunnarsson, told Sperlazzo: “You did everything you could with paper to damage or disrupt the system.”
The Carpentersville man’s legal saga began in 2011, when the Kane County Bar Association filed a civil complaint against him, asserting that he was engaged in the unauthorized practice of law.
According to that complaint, Sperlazzo had taken money to erroneously advise people with mortgage troubles that they could immune themselves from foreclosure by obtaining something called a “land patent.”
Sperlazzo subsequently filed a number of legal documents over the next two years that he claimed were court orders. He filed an order directing the sheriff’s department to pay him $152 million, said Assistant State’s Attorney Joe Cullen. Sperlazzo also filed an order demanding that the judge hearing the bar association complaint case appear before Sperlazzo’s “court of order” and perhaps face a $600 fine, according to Cullen and court records.
Sperlazzo also filed actions in federal court, which were dismissed, and he later filed a lawsuit against the bar association and against three Kane County judges.
Identifying himself in the filing as Robert-Dale of the House of Sperlazzo, he accused the local judges of operating “a kangaroo court” against him.
A judge ordered Sperlazzo to stop filing documents, but when he continued, he was charged with contempt of court. Gunnarsson, a Carroll County judge, was brought in to hear the case, and he found Sperlazzo guilty in August.
Some of Sperlazzo’s statements at his hearing and in his filings bore the language of the “sovereign citizen” movement, whose adherents believe the original American governing laws were secretly replaced by another set, whose authority “sovereigns” do not recognize, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a social justice group that tracks fringe groups.
During Tuesday’s sentencing hearing, Sperlazzo, who insisted on being addressed as Robert-Dale, took the witness stand and said he considered himself “sovereign” and “an American national” rather than a citizen of the United States. Sperlazzo said he “was of the people, but not a person.” A person, he said, was a “legal fiction.”
He told the judge that his understanding of the legal system was based on “common law,” which he said superseded the local court authority. But his legal reasoning failed to move Gunnarsson. The judge told Sperlazzo that the court system’s rules differ from “the courtroom in your head.”
“You are allowed to have any philosophy you choose, but that doesn’t give you the right to foist that on unwilling people,” the judge told Sperlazzo.
The judge said he was imposing the maximum sentence to deter others who may try to take a similar tack. Sperlazzo vowed to appeal. He was taken into custody after the judge declined his attorney’s request that Sperlazzo be allowed to serve the sentence after the holidays.
Copyright © 2014 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC