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The People v. Steenbergen

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 24, 1964.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

DALE J. STEENBERGEN, (IMPLEADED) APPELLANT.



WRIT OF ERROR to the Criminal Court of Cook County; the Hon. THOMAS H. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE HOUSE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied January 19, 1965.

Dale J. Steenbergen, the sole appellant, was indicted with Robert M. Cozzi on June 26, 1961, in the criminal court of Cook County for the crimes of robbery while armed and robbery. At his first trial he pleaded not guilty, and a mistrial was declared when the jury was unable to reach a verdict. The case was later heard by the court sitting without a jury, and defendant was found guilty and sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of 8 to 15 years. He prosecutes this writ of error to review the conviction.

Defendant first argues that he was denied his constitutional right to a trial by jury. The statute expressly provides that where defendant waives a jury the cause shall be heard and determined by the court without a jury, (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1961, chap. 38, par. 736, now chap. 38, par. 115-1,) and we have held that a defendant charged with a felony may waive a trial by jury. (People v. Fisher, 340 Ill. 250; People v. Bradley, 7 Ill.2d 619.) A jury trial is a right and a privilege and is not a jurisdictional requirement. The duty of the court is to determine whether defendant knowingly and understandingly waived this right. People v. Wesley, 30 Ill.2d 131; People v. Clark, 30 Ill.2d 216; People v. Surgeon, 15 Ill.2d 236.

The following excerpts from the record indicate that defendant knowingly and understandingly waived his right to a trial by jury and that there was no denial of his constitutional right thereto:

"Mr. Stein [Defense Counsel]: If the Court please, there will be a plea of not guilty. It will be a bench trial. Is that correct, Mr. Steenbergen?

Defendant Steenbergen: Yes, sir.

Mr. Winsberg [for the State]: Before that, perhaps your Honor wants to accept a jury waiver.

The Court: A Jury waiver?

Mr. Winsberg: Yes.

The Court: Thank you, very much. You have an absolute right, as a matter of procedure — I am addressing myself to the defendant, Steenbergen — You understand you have a right to have a jury trial in this case, don't you?

Defendant Steenbergen: Yes, sir.

The Court: You are aware of the charge ...


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