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People v. Spencer

OCTOBER 9, 1969.

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

KURT SPENCER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JACQUES F. HEILINGOETTER, Judge, presiding. Judgment affirmed.

MR. JUSTICE SCHWARTZ DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT.

In a non-jury trial the defendant was found guilty of theft of a ring valued at more than $150. The court after a hearing in aggravation and mitigation imposed a sentence but immediately put the defendant on probation for three years, the first thirty days thereof to be spent in the House of Correction. As the only contention raised on appeal is that defendant's waiver of his right to a jury trial was not "understandingly" made, we here present the colloquy between the court, the defendant and his lawyer relating to the jury waiver:

THE CLERK: "The People of the State of Illinois versus Kurt Spencer."

MR. TOOLE [Defendant's attorney]: "We are ready for trial, Judge, this will be a trial by the court."

THE COURT: "You understand, Mr. Spencer, you have a right to trial by jury?"

DEFENDANT: "Yes, your Honor."

THE COURT: "You are waiving that right and you wish to be tried by this court?"

DEFENDANT: "Yes, I do, your Honor."

THE COURT: "Will you indicate that by signing the jury waiver, please?"

DEFENDANT: "I'll do that."

MR. TOOLE: "For the record, I'm tendering to the court a jury waiver signed by the defendant, Kurt Spencer."

The statute provides that anyone accused of a criminal offense has the "right to a trial by jury unless understandingly waived by the defendant in open court." Ill Rev Stats, c 38, § 103-6 (1965). Whether such a waiver has been understandingly made depends upon the facts and circumstances of each case. People v. Wesley, 30 Ill.2d 131, 195 N.E.2d 708; People v. Suarez, 96 Ill. App.2d 153, 237 N.E.2d 841. In the case before us the record shows that the defendant was informed of his right to trial by jury and that this right could be waived and that if he waived it, he would be tried by the court.

As the issue involved is the understanding of the defendant, the duty imposed upon the court is to see that the defendant is informed, in words and language he understands, of his right to a jury trial. There can be no specific or defined formula to follow in determining whether a jury waiver is understandingly made. People v. Crable, 80 Ill. App.2d 243, 225 N.E.2d 76. We must assume however in the absence of anything to the contrary that "waiver" and "jury" are words that are commonly understood.

Defendant relies heavily on People v. Bell, 104 Ill. App.2d 479, 244 N.E.2d 321. The facts of that case are clearly distinguishable from those now before the court. In Bell the ...


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