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People v. Garrett

OCTOBER 7, 1969.




Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOHN C. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.


The defendant, Sylvania Garrett, was indicted for burglary. He was tried by the court without a jury, found guilty and sentenced to five years in the Illinois State Penitentiary. From that judgment and sentence this appeal is taken. In this court the defendant urges that the trial court incorrectly ruled in denying his motion to suppress evidence, and that the defendant was not proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Some time between June 17 and June 20, 1966, several power saws, table saws and miscellaneous tools were stolen from the Chicago Dowel Company. One of the saws was traced to the basement of the building in which defendant lived.

The record shows that Sergeant Paschal of the Chicago Police Department's Burglary Division received an anonymous call from a woman on June 20, 1966, informing him that she had seen two men remove a saw from a burned-out building, put the saw into an automobile and drive away. The caller gave the officer the license number of the automobile, which number proved to have been issued to one James Ford. When Sergeant Paschal went to had helped several men remove a saw from an abandoned Ford's home at 5:00 p.m. that day, Ford told him he building earlier in the day, and Ford went with the officer to a building across the street from Chicago Dowel Company.

At the trial Ford testified that a man had asked him if he would like to earn $3 by helping move "something," and when he agreed he met the defendant and another man. He further testified: "They explained to me that I could make $3.00 to haul something. They didn't mention what it was, just a package, and I agreed. We proceeded to go where the package was located. I couldn't recall the street by name. I parked and Garrett and another fellow got out and went out to get the saw. I didn't see where they went to get it." The witness stated that the two men brought a power saw back to his car and put it in the trunk, after which they directed him to take it to 43rd and St. Lawrence. There he backed into a driveway in the alley where the two other men took the saw out of the trunk of his car. The men told Ford to meet them later and they would pay him, but they did not come to the appointed place and he went home. Later, when Sergeant Paschal came to his home he went with him to the building where the saw was taken and identified the saw. He also identified the defendant as "one of the men that hired me to move that saw."

The defendant's testimony is that he was standing on a corner and saw Ford and another man talking; that one of the men asked the defendant if he would like to earn $10 by helping move a saw, and he agreed. Explaining how the saw happened to be placed in the basement of the building in which he rented a room, the defendant said:

"I didn't tell Mr. Ford nothing. It wasn't me doing the directing. The other fellow told Mr. Ford to drive to my home. I don't know if the other fellow knew where my house was. I didn't tell him. He didn't drive directly to my home. He drove to a vacant lot. We did get to my home eventually. Mr. Ford did not know where my home was. Mr. Ford surmised where I lived. He most likely found it out of a clear blue sky; he picked this one, out of the whole City of Chicago, and said, `This is where I am going to drop the saw off.'"

The defendant's story is unbelievably fantastic.

Sergeant Paschal testified that after Ford had pointed out the building where he was directed to pick up the saw and the building where he was directed to take it after it had been put into the trunk of his car, they met the owner of the latter building — Mrs. Wyatt — the defendant's aunt. The officer told Mrs. Wyatt he had reason to believe there was stolen property on the premises, and she gave him permission to search the building. She personally cleared the way for entry into the basement by removing several dogs from the doorway and taking a lock from the door. Inside the basement was a 10-inch power table saw which Ford identified as the item which had been taken there from the abandoned building, and which was later identified by the president of Chicago Dowel Company as one which had been stolen. The saw was then taken by the police.

After his arrest, the defendant continued to deny that he had stolen the saw. At a pretrial hearing he moved to suppress the evidence of the saw found in the basement on the ground that it was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of the defendant. The trial court denied the motion on the ground that the defendant lacked standing to raise the issue since he possessed no right of occupancy to the basement area; that his room was on the second floor and had never been entered by the police.

The Fourth Amendment to the Federal Constitution, and section 6 of Article II of the Illinois Constitution prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures. The exclusion of evidence obtained in violation of these provisions was developed in order to protect the rights of the accused. The Fourth Amendment rights of one incriminated by such evidence would be meaningless, and at the same time the accused would be incriminated in violation of his Fifth Amendment guarantees. The exclusionary rule was developed in order to prevent this dilution of rights, and the practice was developed that the accused have "standing" to entitle him to invoke the protection of the Fourth Amendment. One had to show a possessory or proprietary interest in the premises searched or the property seized before he could be heard to urge exclusion of the particular evidence seized. However, in admitting the proprietary or possessory interest in order to obtain standing under the Fourth Amendment, one was often necessarily incriminating himself by admitting ownership. Thus the accused had to decide whether he should incriminate himself by admitting ownership in order to be able to argue his Fourth Amendment right, or remain silent, thereby foregoing his right, to avoid incriminating himself.

Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257, offered relief from this dilemma by holding that when possession was itself an element of the offense charged, the accused was not required to allege a proprietary or possessory interest in the seized items. Nevertheless, he could challenge the constitutionality of the search and seizure. The Illinois Supreme Court, in People v. De Filippis, 34 Ill.2d 129, 214 N.E.2d 897, said at page 135:

". . . we see in the logic of that decision a requirement that the conventional concepts of standing must give way whenever it is necessary to prevent unfairness, and to secure to an accused both his constitutional protection against unlawful search and seizure and his protection against self-incrimination. Speaking on a more specific plane, we do not see in Jones a proscription that possession must be an element of the crime charged, but interpret its holding as applying whenever proof of possession is sufficient to convict."

The court held that standing was granted to the accused because his possession of the items in question could have been a basis upon which his ...

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