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The People v. Darrah

OPINION FILED SEPTEMBER 28, 1965.

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

v.

WILLIAM DARRAH, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR.



WRIT OF ERROR to the Circuit Court of Rock Island County; the Hon. DAN H. McNEAL, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE SCHAEFER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The grand jury of Rock Island County returned an indictment which charged Jack Duncan and William Darrah, (hereafter defendant) with burglary. A motion to quash the indictment was overruled, and both defendants pleaded not guilty. On April 16, 1962, the case came on for trial. Duncan waived a trial by jury, and his case was continued for trial before the court. The defendant's trial was commenced, a jury was selected and evidence was offered by the prosecution on April 16. The prosecution concluded its case on April 17, and on that date the defendant's motion for a directed verdict was overruled and evidence was offered in his behalf. On April 18 the defendant's case was completed and the prosecution adduced evidence in rebuttal. At the close of all of the evidence the defendant withdrew his plea of not guilty, signed a written waiver of jury trial and tendered his plea of guilty. The plea was accepted, and the defendant was subsequently sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of not less than seven nor more than fifteen years.

Of the several contentions which the defendant advances on this writ of error, we shall consider first that which relates to the circumstances under which the defendant withdrew his plea of not guilty and entered a plea of guilty. He contends that these circumstances establish that his plea was not voluntarily made, but was coerced.

The record shows that when the defendant's attorney announced that "we withdraw our jury demand and enter a plea of guilty" to the indictment, the trial judge directed the State's Attorney to state "what this charge is." The State's Attorney then described the offense charged, and stated that clothing and other items worth between $12,000 and $15,000 "were taken from the store and placed in Darrah's car" which was parked in an adjacent alley. He also stated that it was his understanding that Duncan would appear and plead guilty on the following day.

The record continues:

"The Court: Do you want to tell us what you have advised the defendant as to his rights?

Mr. Winstein [defendant's attorney]: Well, Judge, I think he has been fully advised that he did have a right to trial by jury, the production of witnesses, to force the State to prove him guilty by the production of witnesses, that he himself had the right to be confronted by those witnesses, and to produce witnesses in his own behalf. I have also advised him as to the possible consequences of his plea of guilty.

The Court: What did you tell him in that connection?

Mr. Winstein: Under the new statute, anything in excess of a year, an indeterminate sentence, from one to something.

The Court: For example, what?

Mr. Winstein: Anything but life. Could have been 1 to 99 years, I would think.

The Court: Or possibly seven to fifteen?

Mr. Winstein: Or possibly seven to fifteen.

The Court: Now, Mr. Darrah, you have heard what the State's Attorney has said about your offense, as well as the testimony of the witnesses that have been produced here in this Court up until the present time, you have heard what your attorney has told you about your rights in this case, and you have been cautioned as to the ...


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