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People v. Johnson

OCTOBER 30, 1973.

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

v.

ALBERT JOHNSON, A/K/A DALE LYTLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. SAUL A. EPTON, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE DOWNING DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This appeal emanates from a criminal prosecution of defendant Albert Johnson, also known as Dale Lytle, based upon the commission of an armed robbery, which resulted in defendant's conviction. A judgment was entered on a finding of guilty by the trial court, sitting with a jury, and defendant was sentenced to a term of not less than two years nor more than two years and one day.

The important aspects of the proceedings below can be summarized as follows. On September 10, 1970, defendant was indicted by the grand jury for the commission of an armed robbery alleged to have taken place on May 20, 1970. Upon the filing, on September 17, 1970, of a petition for leave to have defendant admitted to a mental institution *fn1, an order was entered requiring the examination of defendant by the staff of The Psychiatric Institute of the circuit court of Cook County.

Dr. R.A. Reifman, assistant director at The Psychiatric Institute, examined defendant on October 6, 1970, and, on October 21, 1970, filed his report with the court. The results of the examination were that defendant was "* * * diagnosed as schizophrenic reaction, undifferentiated. He is inappropriate, infantile with ideas that people stare at him. He does not understand what he is charged with; does not understand the judicial process and he speaks in a barely audible voice. He is not competent to stand trial; does not appear to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings and doesn't appear able to cooperate with counsel."

A competency hearing was held before an impaneled jury on October 22, 1970, and defendant was adjudged incompetent to stand trial and by order of court was committed to the Illinois Department of Mental Health until fully and permanently recovered from his incompetency. In March, 1971, upon order of the presiding judge of the criminal division of the circuit court, defendant was again examined by Dr. Reifman, and the results of that examination, filed with the court on March 24, 1971, read, in pertinent part: "* * * this previously adjudicated incompetent person has improved sufficiently by virtue of his hospitalization to be considered COMPETENT to stand trial at this time. He understands the nature and purpose of the proceedings and is able to assist in his own defense. Therefore, in conclusion, he is COMPETENT to stand trial." (Capitals in the original.)

On March 31, 1971, defendant's case was called for trial on the question of his competency to stand trial on the armed robbery charge. Defendant was represented by the public defender through an assistant of that office. The following colloquies, set down in detail in order that the proceedings below be placed in full perspective, took place:

"THE CLERK: Albert Johnson.

THE COURT: Albert Johnson, according to the doctor's report that I read, you were declared fully competent and able to stand trial. You can cooperate with your attorney very well, and you understand the charges that are placed against you, and so forth. Do you understand that?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: Now, you have a right to waive a jury trial. You understand that, are you sure?

THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: Do you understand how many people there are on a jury trial?

THE DEFENDANT: Twelve people.

THE COURT: Twelve people to declare you competent or incompetent. And the doctor, if he were to testify, and this were uncontested, then the jury would declare that you are fully competent.

Now, are you prepared to waive the jury and to be tried by me and I will accept the doctor's statement without the benefit of a jury, is that agreeable with you?

THE DEFENDANT: That's agreeable.

THE COURT: All right, under the circumstances, Mr. Sammons [counsel for defendant], I am going to ask your client if he will waive a jury trial, insofar as competency.

MR. SAMMONS: Insofar as competency, he will, Your Honor, and I am handing him the regular form. He is ...


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