Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Criminal
Division; the Hon. EDWARD J. EGAN, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.
MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE ENGLISH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT. CRIME CHARGED
After a bench trial, the court found defendant guilty and sentenced him to a term of two to five years. He had previously served a term of one to five years for a similar offense.
Defendant was improperly denied the right to hire counsel of his own choosing.
(Defendant introduced no evidence at the trial and does not contend here that the evidence was insufficient to establish his guilt. He could hardly do so since, after taking a woman's purse from her by force in an elevator at Marina Towers late at night, he was apprehended within a few minutes, still on the premises and with the money from the purse ($487) in his hand.)
At arraignment on March 8, 1966, the Public Defender was appointed to represent defendant when, in answer to the court's question, he said he did not have a lawyer. Defendant made a request for reduction in bond, but, in view of defendant's prior record, the judge said he could not grant it but would give defendant an early trial. The case was therefore set for trial on March 29.
When the case was called on that date before Judge Napoli, the State answered "ready" but defendant himself (though his attorney was present) said that he was not ready. His reason, as then stated, was:
"Your Honor, look it here, I have some sickness in my family. My grandfather passed and my auntie came out to visit me the day before yesterday and she was going to get me out on bond to go to the funeral, and that is why I was wanting a continuance." (Emphasis supplied.)
When the court ascertained that the funeral was not to be held until the following Sunday, defendant was told that arrangements would be made for his attendance at the funeral, but that the trial would proceed. The case was then assigned to Judge Egan for immediate trial.
When both the State's Attorney and the Public Defender announced themselves ready for trial, defendant advised the court for the first time that he was going to get a lawyer; that he did not want to be represented by the lawyer assigned to him; that his auntie, who was not present, was going to get a lawyer for him. The judge told defendant that the Assistant Public Defender representing him was "a very fine lawyer." After considerable discussion on this point between court and defendant, the latter again sought a continuance on account of the funeral of his ...