Justia Criminal Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court
People v. Perez
Perez was convicted of first degree murder. The Appellate Court, Second District, affirmed his conviction and sentence in 2009; the Illinois Supreme Court leave to appeal. Perez filed a pro se petition for post-conviction relief. On February 7, 2011, a circuit court judge signed and dated an order dismissing the petition as frivolous and patently without merit. February 7 was the ninetieth day after the petition was filed, 725 ILCS 5/122-2.1(a). The clerk stamped the order filed on February 8. The appellate court reversed and remanded for second stage proceedings, finding that the dismissal was untimely because it was not entered until it was filed by the clerk, which occurred on the ninety-first day after the petition was filed and docketed. The court stated that, for a judgment to be effective, it must be publicly expressed at the situs of the proceeding; the record did not reflect the presence of any party, counsel, or any other court personnel on February 7, 2011, so that the first public expression of the order was on February 8. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. Because section 122-2.1(a) specifically requires “entry” of an order, an order that is signed by the judge during the 90-day period, but not file-stamped until the ninety-first day, is not timely for purposes of section 122-2.1(a). View "People v. Perez" on Justia Law
In re Derrico G.
The trial court concluded that section 5-615 of the Juvenile Court Act, 705 ILCS 405/5-615, was unconstitutional, and ordered a continuance under supervision in a case involving a minor, rejecting a negotiated plea agreement. The minor had been the subject of multiple charges and had failed to appear for court dates. The Illinois Supreme court vacated. The provision at issue grants a State’s Attorney, among others, authority to object to the entry of an order of continuance under supervision in a juvenile case before a finding of guilt. The court noted that juvenile proceedings are fundamentally different from criminal proceedings, a difference which extends to the role of the state. The purposes and objectives of the Juvenile Court Act are protective in nature, to correct and rehabilitate, not to punish, and the Act lists the State’s Attorney among those who would undoubtedly be concerned with the children’s best interests. The State’s Attorney has a duty to see that justice is done not only to the public at large, but to the accused as well. In this case, the state exercised its authority under section 5-615 in accordance with that duty.View "In re Derrico G." on Justia Law
Madigan v. Burge
Burge was a Chicago police officer, 1970 to 1993, and served as supervisor of the violent crimes unit. In 1997, Burge was granted pension benefits by the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago. A 2003 civil rights lawsuit alleged torture and abuse by officers under Burge’s command. Burge denied, under oath, having any knowledge of, or participation in, the torture or abuse of persons in custody. In 2008, Burge was convicted of perjury, 18 U.S.C. 1621(1), and obstruction of justice, 18 U.S.C. 1512(c)(2), and sentenced to four and one-half years’ imprisonment. His convictions were affirmed. Burge has not been indicted for conduct which occurred while he was still serving on the Department. In 2011, the Board held a hearing to consider whether, under the Illinois Pension Code, 40 ILCS 5/5-227, Burge’s pension benefits should be terminated because of his federal felony convictions. Section 5-227 states that “[n]one of the benefits … shall be paid to any person who is convicted of any felony relating to or arising out of or in connection with his service as a policeman.” Burge maintained that his felony convictions related solely to the giving of false testimony in a civil lawsuit filed years after his retirement from the force. The divided Board concluded that “the motion was not passed.” “Burge continued to receive benefits. No administrative review was sought. The Attorney General, on behalf of the state, sued Burge and the Board, under section 1-115 of the Pension Code. The trial court held that deciding whether to terminate Burge’s pension was a “quintessential adjudicative function” that rested exclusively within the original jurisdiction of the Board, subject to review under the Administrative Review Law. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, reinstating the dismissal.Burke View "Madigan v. Burge" on Justia Law
In re Brandon P.
Brandon, then 14 years old, was charged by petition for adjudication of wardship with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of his cousin M.J., then three years old, 720 ILCS 5/12-16(c)(2)(i).” M.J. was unable to testify. The state gave notice and offered statements that M.J. made to her mother and to Detective Hogren, of the Danville police department that “Brandon put that stuff in his mouth on her vagina which made her vagina hurt and Brandon put his finger in her vagina” and that “Brandon put his finger in her vagina which made her feel bad and Brandon spit on her vagina and put his penis on her at Uncle Mike’s.” Following an adjudicatory hearing, the circuit court found him guilty and sentenced him to the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice for an indeterminate period not to exceed the period for which an adult could be committed for the same act, or the date of his twenty-first birthday, whichever came first. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, holding that error in admitting Detective Hogren’s hearsay testimony was cumulative of "overwhelming' properly admitted testimonial evidence and did not contribute to the adjudication of guilt.View "In re Brandon P." on Justia Law
In re Commitment of Fields
In 2005 Fields pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse and kidnaping. Shortly before he was to begin mandatory supervised release, the state petitioned for his involuntary commitment under the Sexually Violent Persons (SVP) Commitment Act, 725 ILCS 207/1. The circuit court found probable cause. At trial, the state presented the testimony of two psychologists that Fields suffers from pedophilia and antisocial personality disorder and is dangerous because it is probable that he will commit acts of sexual violence in the future. In addition to the 2005 incident, the experts considered an offense involving another nine-year-old boy, when Fields was 15 years old. They also referred to several incidents while Fields was in custody and his failure to participate in sex offender treatment. A jury found Fields to be a SVP. After the circuit court entered judgment, Fields requested a date for a dispositional hearing and a pre-hearing evaluation. In denying those requests, the court determined it already had sufficient information to make its dispositional ruling, and ordered him committed to a secure treatment and detention facility. The appellate court affirmed the SVP finding, but vacated the commitment order and remanded for a dispositional hearing. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The state proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Fields was an SVP as defined by the Act, which requires a dispositional hearing.View "In re Commitment of Fields" on Justia Law
In re Marriage of Donald B.
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, 750 ILCS 5/607(e), prohibits a non-custodial parent who has been convicted of a sexual offense perpetrated on a victim less than 18 years of age from obtaining court-ordered visitation with his children while serving his sentence and until successfully completing “a treatment program approved by the court.” A child abuse report was made to a hot line, alleging that Donald had sexually abused an unrelated minor. Donald pled guilty and was sentenced to two years’ probation. Donald was required to register as a sex offender, to provide a DNA sample, and to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, but not required to obtain sex offender treatment. A court subsequently granted Donald’s ex-wife sole custody of their children suspended Donald’s visitation pursuant to section 607(e) Donald argued that a parent’s right to visitation with his child is a fundamental right, which the state may not abridge unless there is a compelling state interest and a finding that denying visitation is in the child’s best interest. The court agreed and found the law unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court vacated, finding the matter moot. Donald successfully completed his probation. His cooperative participation in the sex offender evaluation, plus the evaluator’s assessment and recommendation that no further treatment was necessary, were sufficient to show compliance with section 607(e)’s requirement that he “successfully complete a treatment program approved by the court.” The court declined to apply the “public interest" exception.View "In re Marriage of Donald B." on Justia Law
People v. Bingham
Bingham, then in her late teens, committed aggressive acts toward adults and children, including grabbing and kissing. She was declared a sexually dangerous person under the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act, 725 ILCS 205/1.01. The Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections was appointed as her guardian. She was to remain committed “until or unless [she] is recovered and released.” The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The limited evidence was insufficient to establish that it was substantially probable that Bingham would commit future sex offenses. A single incident, in which she attempted to grab a woman’s breast area through her shirt, was insufficient to establish that substantial probability. Another incident, involving Bingham touching the buttocks of 17-year-old Katie C, was not clearly intentional; Katie C. acknowledged that Bingham only touched her one time and stopped as soon as Katie C. asked her to do so. There was no evidence that the incident was done as a result of “arousal or gratification of sexual needs or desires.” Without evidence of either an act of sexual assault or acts of child molestation, the state failed to prove propensities toward acts of sexual assault or sexual molestation of children.View "People v. Bingham" on Justia Law
People v. Stahl
Due to brain damage from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, defendant cannot remember the events leading to home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(4)) and aggravated unlawful restraint (720 ILCS 5/10-3.1(a)) charges against him. Defendant had entered the home of his former wife and child, despite an order of protection, and threatened the occupants with a gun before shooting himself.The trial court found defendant unfit to stand trial. Later, after a discharge hearing, he was found “not not guilty.” The court remanded him to the Department of Human Services (DHS) for extended terms of treatment of 24 months for home invasion and 15 months for unlawful restraint. After DHS determined that defendant had been restored to fitness, the trial court held a hearing and found that defendant remained unfit to stand trial and that it was not reasonably probable that he would be fit within one year. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. All three psychiatric experts concluded that defendant had no recollection of the events leading to the charges against him, or of what occurred up to 48 hours prior to those events. Two of the psychiatrists concluded that defendant’s short-term memory was substantially impaired and would affect his ability to assist in his own defense. The third acknowledged that defendant ranked in the lowest one percentile with regard to short-term memory retention after 20 to 30 minutes. View "People v. Stahl" on Justia Law
People v. Stoecker
In 1996, 15-year-old Humble left a Peoria children’s home and accepted a ride from a man who drove her to a remote area, sexually assaulted her, cut her throat, and left her in a field. At the hospital, Humble described her assailant as a white, stocky man, 20 to 30 years old, with blond hair, driving a red car. Humble died one month later. Defendant had previously lived near the crime scene. On the evening of the attack, defendant attended a class for domestic abusers and was seen wearing a knife in his belt and leaving in a red car. The next day, defendant left the country. Wiretap recordings of conversations with his family indicated that defendant was hiding from authorities. A police officer observed defendant’s brothers burning the interior of a red car. Defendant was extradited 18 months later and charged with first degree murder and aggravated criminal sexual assault. One expert testified that the DNA profile identified in the male fraction of a stain on Humble’s clothing and in defendant’s blood would be expected to occur in approximately 1 in 1.1 trillion Caucasians. The appellate court affirmed his conviction and life sentence. In 2008 the appellate court affirmed dismissal of defendant’s fifth post-conviction petition. In 2009, defendant requested that the stain evidence be subjected to testing allegedly unavailable at the time of his trial: mitochondrial (mtDNA) testing, and Y-chromosome (Y-STR) testing. He alleged that mixed samples of male and female DNA, like in his case, “can lead to misidentification,” and that Y-STR testing “allows resolution of a mixed sample,” but did not claim that the requested testing provided a reasonable likelihood of more probative results. The circuit court denied the motion. The appellate court reversed. The supreme court reinstated the denial, noting that defendant never raised these claims and offered no alternative DNA evidence or expert opinion at trial; he never challenged admission of the DNA test results as inaccurate or improperly performed. The court noted the strength of the matches between the stain and defendant’s DNA profile, plus the compelling circumstantial evidence of his guilt.View "People v. Stoecker" on Justia Law
People v. Clark
Clark was indicted under 720 ILCS 5/14-2(a)(1)(A) for having used an eavesdropping device to record a conversation between himself and attorney Thomas without her consent and having used a device to record a conversation between himself, Judge Janes, and Thomas while Janes was acting in the performance of official duties, without the consent of either. Defendant stated that he was in court and attorney Thomas was representing the opposing party; there was no court reporter nor was there any recording device, so he made recordings to preserve the record. He claimed he had a first amendment right to gather information by recording officials performing their public duties. The circuit court dismissed, holding that the statute is unconstitutional on substantive due process and first amendment grounds. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, reasoning that if another person overhears what we say, that person may write it down and publish it, but if that same person records our words with a recording device, even if it is not published in any way, a criminal act has been committed. The statute goes too far in its effort to protect individuals’ interest in the privacy of their communications and burdens substantially more speech than necessary to serve interests it may legitimately serve. It does not meet the requirements necessary to satisfy intermediate scrutiny.View "People v. Clark" on Justia Law