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The People v. Pride





WRIT OF ERROR to the Criminal Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOSEPH A. POPE, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied March 18, 1959.

The criminal court of Cook County, trial by jury having been waived, found the defendant, Cecil Pride, guilty of the crime of burglary as charged in the first count of the indictment upon which he was tried. The court sentenced the defendant to the Illinois State Penitentiary for a term of not less than one year nor more than five years. Following the substitution of defendant's present counsel for the counsel who represented him at the trial, arguments were heard on motions for a new trial and in arrest of judgment. The motions were overruled, but the court vacated the original sentence and imposed a sentence for a term of not less than one year nor more than four years. Defendant prosecutes this writ of error to reverse the judgment.

Defendant's original counsel stipulated that if one Francis Nash were called as a witness he would testify that he was an employee of the Kenny Construction Company, that on the morning of January 17, 1957, he examined the company's movable trailer field office in which he had worked the day before and which he had locked when he left it, and that from such examination he discovered a window in the trailer had been smashed and 18 articles of personal property which had been in there when he locked the trailer were missing. On or about February 21, 1957, an engineer's transit, which defendant's counsel stipulated was one of the 18 articles burglariously taken from the trailer, was recovered from a pawn shop in Chicago.

Morris Bartman, an appraiser at the pawn shop, identified the defendant as the man who pawned the transit. Bartman testified that the defendant came to the pawn shop a week prior to February 16, 1957, and tried to pawn the transit but they could not agree on a price. He said the defendant came back a week later at which time the transit was pawned for $25. An application for loan was filled out at the time of this transaction. Upon the application card is a signature purporting to be that of the defendant. On the back of the card is the name of the transit and its serial number, the defendant's name and address, his driver's license number and his social security number.

The defendant denied that he committed the burglary, that he ever had possession of any of the property burglariously taken and that he pawned the engineer's transit. He testified that about a year prior to the time he was arrested his wallet containing his social security card and driver's license was either stolen or lost.

The defendant contends that venue was not proved in this case, and, therefore, the conviction must be reversed and the cause remanded. It is a well established rule that the charge that a crime was committed in a particular county is a material averment and must be proved to sustain a conviction. (People v. Allen, 413 Ill. 69; People v. Strook, 347 Ill. 460; People v. O'Gara, 271 Ill. 138.) The issue here is whether the venue was satisfactorily proved.

It is true that there was no direct evidence to establish in which city, county or State the burglary occurred. The only evidence of venue was that a trailer office belonging to the Kenny Construction Company and located at 8900 S. Anthony Avenue during the progress of construction work on the Calumet Skyway was burglarized.

In many of its earlier decisions this court adhered to a technical view and insisted upon positive and strict proof of venue precisely as alleged. (See e.g. Moore v. People, 150 Ill. 405.) Applying the rationale of these earlier decisions the evidence in this case would not be sufficient to establish venue. We believe, however, that a more practical and realistic approach was used in People v. Long, 407 Ill. 210. It was there held that venue is proved when the evidence leads to the rational conclusion without reasonable doubt that the crime was committed in the county where the trial was held. This rule was laid down prior to the Long case (See Weinberg v. People, 208 Ill. 15; People v. Ortiz, 320 Ill. 205,) but it was in the Long case that it was applied more liberally. It was similarly applied in People v. Allen, 413 Ill. 69, wherein this court expressly overruled any judicial determination inconsistent with the Long case.

The defendant, nevertheless, cites People v. O'Gara, 271 Ill. 138, and People v. Strook, 347 Ill. 460, wherein it was held that a street address was not sufficient to prove that the crime in each case was committed in Cook County. The court in these cases was following the rule that in addition to the street address, it is necessry that the record show specifically the city (Sullivan v. People, 122 Ill. 385,) or the county (Weinberg v. People, 208 Ill. 15) wherein the crime was committed.

An examination of the O'Gara case, the Strook case and many others following that line of reasoning leads to the inescapable conclusion that the court felt the witnesses had not stated the place where the crime was committed with sufficient specificity. This reasoning, however, presents a paradox in that it is inconsistent with common experience.

The statement attributed to Mr. Justice Holmes that judges need not be more naive than other men is particularly appropriate. They should use their common sense, common observation and general knowledge in considering evidence and drawing the proper inference from it. What is obvious to the layman should not be confounded by labeling it indefinite to the courts.

When a person is within a city or village and is talking with another person within the same city or village, he will describe a location within the said city or village by merely saying at the corner of such and such streets, or within the so-many-hundred block of such street or give the exact street and number. The person who hears this incomplete address knows to what city and State the speaker is referring, since this is the common way (though not the best way) to describe locations. If the location is in some other city or village than where the speaker and listener are, the name of that other city or village will often be given for clarification. This incomplete manner of description is also common when referring to a city or village. Thus, when persons in and around ...

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