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The People v. Jackson

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 30, 1961.

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

v.

DOROTHY JACKSON, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR.



WRIT OF ERROR to the Criminal Court of Cook County; the Hon. ALFRED J. CILELLA, Judge, presiding.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BRISTOW DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:*FN1 *FN1 THIS OPINION WAS PREPARED BY THE LATE MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BRISTOW, AND WAS ADOPTED AND FILED AS THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

Dorothy Jackson was indicted for the crime of unlawful possession of narcotic drugs. A bench trial resulted in a judgment of conviction, and she prosecutes this writ of error.

On August 23, 1960, certain State narcotic inspectors obtained a search warrant for the third-floor apartment at 4367 South Oakenwald Avenue, Chicago. The warrant named Jane Doe, alias Doris Greenwood, as respondent.

One of the agents, Stribling, was met at the door of the apartment by the defendant, who was carrying a large handbag. He inquired if she was Doris, and she replied that she was not. He displayed his badge and informed her that she was under arrest, whereupon she invited him in. She took two steps into the apartment, then turned quickly and ran down the hallway to the bathroom, where she locked herself in.

Agent Stribling banged vigorously on the door of the bathroom, and after a short interval, the defendant opened the door, her appearance suggesting that she had been using the toilet facilities.

Agent Stribling suggested to the defendant that she had flushed narcotics down the toilet. The defendant denied this, and invited Stribling to look for himself. Stribling thereupon attempted to handcuff the defendant. He placed handcuffs on one of her wrists, but the defendant violently resisted the completion of this procedure. Four other agents came to assist Stribling, who subsequently testified that he "clocked" the time necessary to handcuff the defendant's other wrist at fifteen minutes. In the scuffle, two of the agents received minor injuries.

The agents inspected the toilet bowl and found no moisture above the water level. The face bowl was dry. The interior of the bathtub bore marks which might have been footprints. The purse which the defendant had been carrying earlier, was observed lying open on the floor of the bathroom.

The agents looked out the bathroom window, and observed that it opened on an airwell. Seven other apartments in the building also have windows opening on the airwell.

The bottom of the airwell, at the basement level, was covered with filth and debris. One of the agents descended to the basement level and entered the airwell. Stribling held his hand out the defendant's bathroom window, and directly beneath his hand a package was found at the surface of the debris. The remainder of the refuse bore evidence of having been subjected to rainfall; the package was dry. However, it had not rained for at least two days.

The package contained a number of envelopes of white powder subsequently analyzed as heroin. The agents confronted the defendant with the package, and suggested that she had thrown it into the airwell. The defendant denied this. The agents told the defendant that her fingerprints would probably be found on the package. Defendant appeared disturbed, but she persisted in her denial.

The foregoing is a summary of the testimony of the agents who participated in the arrest. Those events formed the basis for the defendant's indictment.

Testifying on her own behalf, the defendant stated that she had been using the bathroom when the officer came to the door; that she answered his call, asked him to wait a moment, and ran back to the bathroom; that she was thereafter arrested without knowledge of the nature of the agents' inquiry; that her younger brothers sometimes play in the bathtub; and that she at no time had any narcotics in her possession at the apartment in question. Other witnesses on her behalf corroborated her version of the arrest, and testified that all of the tenants threw all kinds of rubbish from their bathroom windows.

In rebuttal, the State showed a prior conviction of the defendant for ...


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