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The People v. Gordon

OPINION FILED JANUARY 21, 1955

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT IN ERROR,

v.

ROSE GORDON, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR.



WRIT OF ERROR to the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. ROSCOE C. SOUTH, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MAXWELL DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 22, 1955.

The plaintiff in error, Rose Gordon, was convicted by a jury in the circuit court of Will County of larceny of two suits of clothing, the property of The Eagle, a corporation, a clothing store in the city of Joliet. The court overruled her motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment and sentenced her to a term of imprisonment of not less than nine nor more than ten years.

The State's evidence, briefly summarized, tended to show that the plaintiff in error was in The Eagle store on the evening of December 20, 1952, in company with a man. One witness testified he saw this man take two men's suits from a rack in the store and put them under plaintiff in error's coat. Two other witnesses testified they saw plaintiff in error leaving the store, her coat was bulky and it appeared she had something concealed under it. An alarm was sounded and two police officers who were in the store ran after plaintiff in error and caught her in a nearby alley in possession of the suits. The only evidence offered by the defendant was one witness who testified as to the value of the suits.

Plaintiff in error's writ of error to this court presents the sole question, as stated in her brief, "The People failed to prove that the ownership of the property alleged to have been stolen was in the Eagle, a corporation, as charged in the indictment." Specifically, she contends that the court erred in permitting the president of the corporation to testify, over her objection, that the corporation was the owner of the property because it is a well-established rule of law that corporate existence cannot be proved by oral testimony. People v. Struble, 275 Ill. 162; People v. Krittenbrink, 269 Ill. 244.

It is difficult to determine precisely what plaintiff in error's contentions are. In the assignment of errors she states this objection in this manner: "The People failed to prove the existence of the corporation named in the indictment from whom the property was alleged to have been stolen." There is nothing in the assignment of errors about failure to prove ownership. In her brief, under Points Relied Upon For Reversal, she states the objection thus: "The People failed to prove that the ownership of the property alleged to have been stolen was in The Eagle, a corporation, as charged in the indictment." To clarify her contention she states in her reply brief: "It is our contention that when objection was made by counsel for the defendant to the proof of ownership of the merchandise by opinion evidence, it was incumbent upon the People to prove the existence of the corporation by the introduction of the charter of the corporation or a certified copy thereof, or by proving user."

A restatement of the testimony on corporate existence and ownership will present the issue. Frank J. Turk, the People's first witness, testified as follows:

"Q. Will you state your name, please?

A. Frank J. Turk.

Q. Where do you live, Mr. Turk?

A. 959 Western Avenue.

Q. Mr. Turk, are you connected with The Eagle Company?

A. I am.

Q. And in what capacity?

A. I am president of the corporation.

Q. And does The Eagle, a corporation, operate ...


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