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People v. Washington

NOVEMBER 29, 1972.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

A.C. WASHINGTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. KENNETH R. WENDT, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE ADESKO DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, A.C. Washington, was charged with the offense of aggravated battery. After a jury trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to a term of not less than three nor more than nine years in the Illinois State Penitentiary. Defendant raises the following issues for review:

1. Whether defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel at trial;

2. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in permitting the State to introduce, in rebuttal, defendant's prior burglary conviction for the purpose of impeachment; and

3. Whether the sentence of three to nine years is excessive.

The facts are as follows:

John Booth and Louis Dopson testified that on May 29, 1970, they were employed at a market located at 1228 S. Kedzie Avenue, in Chicago and that during a work break they went to 1226 S. Kedzie where defendant, A.C. Washington, was living. They became engaged in a dice game with defendant and his wife on the front steps of defendant's house. When Mrs. Washington was throwing the dice, during the game, defendant and Louis Dopson made a $2.00 wager on the outcome of Mrs. Washington's roll of the dice. Dopson won the wager and picked up the money.

Defendant told Booth and Dopson that he was going to get his money back. Defendant then went into the house, returned with a rifle and demanded that Dopson return the money. John Booth observed Dopson return the money to Mrs. Washington just before defendant shot Dopson in the leg.

Defendant testified that no dice game ever occurred. Rather he stated that his wife was returning from the corner store when she was approached by Louis Dopson who asked for $2.00. Mrs. Washington told Dopson to ask her husband for the money which defendant stated Dopson did. When defendant refused to give Dopson any money he stated that Dopson pulled out a knife and approached defendant. Defendant stated he then ran up the stairs of his house and pulled out a rifle kept immediately inside the door and shot Dopson.

Dolores Scott, a passerby, testified that she saw Dopson near defendant's steps with a knife in his hand. Louis Dopson, however, testified that he did not have a knife while he was on defendant's porch and that testimony was corroborated by John Booth and Jethro Alexander, an employee of the market who was standing outside of the market and observed the dice game. A police officer who investigated the shooting testified that he found no knife.

Defendant was charged with the offense of aggravated battery and after a jury trial was found guilty. He was sentenced to serve not less than three nor more than nine years in the Illinois State Penitentiary.

• 1 Defendant's initial contention on appeal is that he was denied effective assistance of counsel at trial. Defendant in the instant case was represented by private counsel. Where a defendant in a criminal case employs private counsel, his conviction will not be reversed on appeal merely because his counsel failed to exercise the greatest skill, or for that reason, that it might appear, in looking back over the trial, that he had made some tactical blunders. (People v. Stephens, 6 Ill.2d 257, 128 N.E.2d 731; People v. Lenker, 6 Ill. App.3d 335, 285 N.E.2d 807.) A conviction will not be reversed unless representation was of such low caliber as to amount to no representation at all, or that it was such as to reduce the trial to a farce. People v. Washington, 41 Ill.2d 16, 241 N.E.2d 425; People v. Clark, 9 Ill.2d 46, 137 N.E.2d 54, cert. denied, 352 U.S. 1002, rehearing denied, 353 U.S. 931.

• 2 In the instant case, defendant's attorney conducted extensive cross-examination of the State's witnesses, introduced testimony by defendant which if believed would demonstrate self-defense and introduced other defense witnesses to corroborate defendant. Upon examination of the record presented here, it cannot be said that the representation of defendant was of such low caliber as to require a reversal.

• 3 Defendant next contends that the trial court erred in permitting the State to introduce in rebuttal, defendant's prior burglary conviction in an attempt to impeach defendant's testimony. The Illinois Supreme Court, in People v. Montgomery, 47 Ill.2d 510, 268 N.E.2d 695, has approved a rule adopted by the Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure of the Judicial Conference of the United States which provides:

"Evidence of a conviction under this rule is notadmissible if a period of more than 10 years has elapsed since the date of the conviction or of the release of the witnesses ...


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