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People Ex Rel. Blackmon v. Brent

JUNE 20, 1968.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, First Municipal District; the Hon. ALVIN TURNER, Judge, presiding. Affirmed.


The complaining witness instituted two paternity actions against the defendant charging him with being the father of two of her children. The cases were tried together, the defendant was found to be the father of the children and he was ordered to pay $10 a week for the support of each child.

The causes have been consolidated on the defendant's appeal and he raises three contentions: the complaints were jurisdictionally defective, the evidence was insufficient to support the guilty findings, and incompetent evidence was introduced which prejudiced him.

The complaining witness testified that she and the defendant, who was her insurance agent when she first met him, engaged in sexual intercourse from March of 1962 through June 1962, and that on February 11, 1963, she gave birth to a male child. In the months of July, August and September 1963, she again had intercourse with the defendant and the following May a female child was born to her. She said that during the enumerated months she had intercourse with no one but the defendant and, although he never admitted being the father of the children, he gave her money for their care. She said she had dismissed an earlier paternity proceeding against him when he agreed to provide for the children.

The defendant denied being the father of the children. He admitted that he gave the complaining witness money but said it was to cover the cost of repairing her car which he had damaged and because she had done favors for him. He did not explain what these favors consisted of nor did he deny having sexual relations with her.

The defendant first contends that the trial court was without jurisdiction to try the cases because the complaints were not sworn to. Section 54 of the Paternity Act (Ill Rev Stats 1963, c 106 3/4, § 51 et seq.) provides that:

". . . Such action may be instituted only on the filing of a complaint in writing by the mother of a child born out of wedlock . . . accusing, under oath or affirmation, a person with being the father of such child . . ."

Each complaint contains the signature of the complaining witness which is preceded by a statement that she, being sworn under oath, read the complaint and that it is true and accurate. The space provided for the signature of a person authorized to administer oaths is blank on both complaints. However, the record discloses that the complaining witness and the defendant were present in open court on September 2, 1964. Two orders entered on that date, which are similar in content, recite that the complaining witness,

". . . presents to the Court the complaint herein under oath . . . and the Court having examined under oath the person presenting the same . . . it is ordered that leave be granted to file said complaint instanter."

[1-3] A paternity action is solely statutory and the procedure outlined in the statute must be complied with. The orders of September 2, 1964, indicate that the requirements of the statute were followed. The orders, which are part of a properly authenticated record that imports verity (City of Chicago v. 3 Oaks Wrecking and Lumber Co., 65 Ill. App.2d 328, 213 N.E.2d 48 (1965)), indicate that the complaining witness accused the defendant of being the father of the two children and that she did so in a written complaint and under oath. This is all that is contemplated by the statute.

The defendant's next contention is that there was insufficient evidence that the children were either born alive or, if so born, that they were still living at the time of trial.

[4-6] The Paternity Act is not punitive; its purpose is to provide for the support, maintenance and education of illegitimate children so that the latter will not become wards of the State. Therefore, if an illegitimate child is born dead, no liability attaches to its father. Likewise, if a child should die after birth the father's liability ceases at the time of its death.

There was ample evidence not only that the children were born alive, but that they were living at the time of trial. The complaining witness' testimony that the children were born was uncontradicted and the record is replete with testimony which can be interpreted in no other way than that they were alive at the time she was testifying. Moreover, when a child has been born alive it is presumed that the child continues to live until the contrary is shown. Mann v. People, 35 Ill. 467 (1864).

Prior to trial the parties, assisted by counsel, entered into a written stipulation that they would submit to a polygraph test and that the results would be admissible into evidence. The complaining witness took the test but the defendant did not. At the trial, the result of her test was admitted into evidence over the defendant's objection that it was a carbon copy and not the original. The trial court was then informed that the original report had been sent to a judge of the ...

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