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People v. Wills





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. DANIEL J. RYAN, Judge, presiding.


Defendant was charged by indictment with three counts of perjury subsequent to his testimony before the Cook County grand jury investigating improprieties in the licensing procedures of the Illinois Department of Insurance. Following a bench trial, defendant was convicted of all three counts and sentenced to four years' probation with the first six months to be served in a work release program. This appeal followed.

At trial, William M. Daley testified that he had first taken an examination to obtain an insurance broker's license in July, 1972. Having failed the examination, he had again taken the test on March 16, 1973. Daley was subsequently notified that he had passed this second examination. When shown his March 16 examination paper, he identified his signature on the examination, but could not identify all of the answers as having been written in his handwriting.

Gordon Casper testified that he had supervised the licensing examination given in Chicago on Friday, March 16, 1973. Andrew Preer assisted him. At the end of the day, all of the test papers were put into a briefcase and taken back to Casper's home in Springfield for the weekend.

Defendant, who had recently been discharged as an insurance examiner, telephoned Casper the following Sunday and asked whether "Mr. Daley" had appeared for the examination. Casper checked the list and told defendant that Daley had taken the test and that defendant could come by to talk. Defendant arrived 20 minutes later and Casper handed him the Daley examination. Defendant read the test paper and stated that too many questions were left unanswered. He asked Casper if he could fill in some answers "as a favor to Senator Partee." Casper agreed and defendant spent about 20 minutes filling in several answers with a pen. Casper then replaced the test with the other papers. The next day, Casper took all of the examinations to his office and graded them. He gave the Daley examination a passing score and recorded the grade.

A year later, both men received subpoenas to testify on March 20, 1974, before the Cook County grand jury investigating licensing irregularities at the Department of Insurance. They met the Saturday before their scheduled appearances and agreed that they should "just play it cool like we had before" and, when traveling to Chicago together to testify, again agreed to maintain their story.

Casper testified before the grand jury a second time on May 10, 1974, under a grant of immunity. Defendant had already been indicted. Prior to his appearance, Casper met with defendant and told him that he had spoken with his attorney and had decided to tell the truth. Defendant stated that he wouldn't change his story.

On cross-examination, Casper stated that he initially told the grand jury that he knew of no one in the Department of Insurance who wrote anything in the examination paper. He believed this to be true since defendant had been discharged on March 2, 1973, and the examination was given on March 16, 1973.

Antonio A. Canter, a chemical physicist specializing in ink and paper analysis for the United States Treasury Department, was called as a witness and stated that he examined the test paper and concluded that the answers to questions 1B, 13, 29B, 42, 44A, and 46 were written in an ink different from that used to write the other answers. Michael J. McEachen, a document examiner for the United States Treasury Department, testified that he compared the answers written in the William Daley examination with various handwriting exemplars and concluded that defendant had written several of the answers on the examination paper.

Defendant offered no testimony, but entered into evidence the original indictment charging him with perjury and the transcript of Casper's testimony before the grand jury on March 20, 1974. The transcript of defendant's testimony before the grand jury had been introduced into evidence earlier. After closing arguments, the court entered judgments of guilty.

Although defendant raises several contentions on appeal, the view we take of this case requires us to address only one issue.


As he did at trial, defendant contends that a conviction would be improper since the answers he gave were either literally true or truthful in the context of the ambiguous questions defendant was asked.

Defendant appeared before the grand jury and testified that he was employed by the Department of Insurance from June 1969 to March, 1973. He was handed an insurance examination by the assistant state's attorney conducting the examination and was asked:

"Q. Did you grade this examination?

A. I think so although it doesn't have my initial on it.

Q. Is this yours?

A. Yes.

Q. This is John Patrick Daley's examination?

A. Yes.

Q. Do your initials appear on this examination?

A. No, that is what I was looking for.

Q. And how do you know that you ...

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