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People v. Scott

FEBRUARY 17, 1969.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. NATHAN M. COHEN, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.


In November, 1959, the defendant, Roosevelt Scott, was charged with the murder of Gertrude Rhinehardt and John Schot. After a jury trial in the Criminal Court of Cook County, Scott was found guilty of the crimes and received the death penalty. In September, 1963, this conviction was reversed and remanded by the Illinois Supreme Court because of various trial errors. People v. Scott, 29 Ill.2d 97, 193 N.E.2d 814 (1964).

Prior to his second trial, Scott was represented by an attorney who has spent some four years of work on the case. This attorney offered several pretrial motions in January, 1964, on the defendant's behalf, but on March 3, 1964, the attorney stated that he felt he could no longer effectively represent the defendant. The defendant concurred, and the attorney was permitted to withdraw as defense counsel by the court. The defendant requested a new attorney be appointed by the Bar Association, which request was granted on March 25, 1964. The defendant subsequently voiced his displeasure with this new attorney, and the latter was allowed to withdraw as defense counsel on May 26, 1964. The defendant refused the services of the Public Defender, and expressed his desire to represent himself, whereupon on June 10, 1964, the court appointed a Public Defender as legal advisor to the defendant to assist the defendant in his defense. On June 11, 1964, defendant presented a motion to dismiss the charges against him which the court denied. The court then suggested that the defendant receive a Behavior Clinic examination, however, the defendant stated he was examined at the clinic in 1961 and was declared "quite sane." The court continued to advise the defendant to undergo an examination, yet the defendant refused to do so.

On June 16, 1964, the defendant and his legal advisor appeared before the court, and the court offered to hold a hearing on a motion to suppress an alleged unsigned statement or confession of November 25, 1959. This motion had been made on January 9, 1964, by the attorney who had originally handled the defendant's cause, but had not yet been heard or ruled upon by the trial court. The defendant, contrary to the advice of his legal advisor, refused to renew or refile the motion to suppress the alleged statement or confession, and declined to have a hearing on the question of the voluntariness of the statement, stating that he had never made a statement or confession nor had signed such a document, and the filing of this motion would prejudice his defense as he saw it. (The defendant subsequently reaffirmed this position to the court on several different occasions.)

The cause was set for trial on July 13, 1964. The defendant agreed to let his legal advisor conduct the voir dire and select the jury, but insisted upon conducting his own defense. At the trial, the State introduced the statement allegedly given by the defendant on November 25, 1959, in which defendant admitted his complicity in the murders of Mrs. Rhinehardt and Mr. Schot. The defense did not put on any witnesses in its behalf after the State rested its case. On July 29, 1964, the jury found the defendant guilty of the murder of Gertrude Rhinehardt as charged in the indictment. Judgment was entered on the findings against the defendant, and the defendant was sentenced to the penitentiary for not less than one hundred nor more than one hundred-fifty years. This appeal followed in order to review certain preliminary findings and the judgment. No question is raised as to the pleadings.

It is the theory of the defendant that he was denied due process of law when the trial court failed to impanel a jury for the purpose of determining whether the defendant was competent to stand trial; that the trial court committed reversible error by its failure to conduct a full hearing on the admissibility of the defendant's alleged confession; and that the Illinois Courts of Review must make an independent determination as to the voluntariness of the defendant's alleged confession.

It is defendant's first contention that section 104-2(a), read in conjunction with section 104-2(d), chapter 38, Ill Rev Stats 1965, expressly places an affirmative duty upon the trial court to impanel a jury for the purpose of determining the competency of the defendant to stand trial. Specifically, section 104-2(a) states:

"If before a trial, or after a judgment has been entered but before pronouncement of sentence, or after a death sentence has been imposed but before execution of that sentence, the court has reason to believe that the defendant is incompetent the court shall suspend the proceedings and shall impanel a jury to determine the defendant's competency. If a jury is waived by the defendant, the court shall conduct a hearing to determine the defendant's competency."

While section 104-2(d) provides:

"The court may appoint qualified experts who shall be compensated by the county to examine the defendant with regard to his competency and to testify at the hearing. Any party may introduce at the hearing other evidence regarding the defendant's competency. No statement made by the accused in the course of any examination into his competency provided for by this Section, whether the examination shall be with or without the consent of the accused, shall be admitted in evidence against the accused on the issue of guilt in any criminal proceeding."

Section 104-1 defines the meaning of "incompetent":

"For the purpose of this Article, `incompetent' means a person charged with an offense who is unable because of a physical or mental condition:

"(a) To understand the nature and purpose of the ...

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