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People v. Logan

OPINION FILED JULY 8, 1977.

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

v.

CURTIS LEE LOGAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. JOHN GITCHOFF, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE EBERSPACHER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal by defendant, Curtis Lee Logan, from the judgment entered by the circuit court of Madison County after a jury trial, finding him guilty of the offense of burglary.

Defendant presents two issues for review: (1) whether the trial court erred in denying defendant's petition for a hearing on his fitness to stand trial and for the appointment of a psychiatrist; and (2) whether defendant was denied a fair trial due to the admission of evidence that he committed other offenses.

This case arises from the burglary of a storage building owned by Joseph Manns. The State's primary evidence at trial consisted of a video taped and transcribed confession by defendant in which, inter alia, he admitted that he and an accomplice, Gerald Dewey Main, had committed the offense. In addition, certain equipment found in the possession of Main was identified at trial by Joseph Manns as property taken from his building. Defendant presented no evidence.

Prior to trial, defense counsel filed a petition asking the trial court to appoint two psychiatrists to examine defendant and to hold a hearing for the purpose of determining defendant's fitness to stand trial. A hearing was held on the petition wherein the court extensively examined defendant and thereafter the petition was denied. On appeal defendant raises three related arguments in support of his contention that the court erred in denying the petition. First, he argues, citing no authority, that under section 5-2-1(g) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-1(g) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-1(g)) the appointment of an expert to examine defendant was mandatory. Section 5-2-1(g) provides:

"If requested by the State or defendant, the court shall appoint a qualified expert or experts to examine the defendant and testify regarding his fitness. The court shall enter an order on the county board to pay the expert or experts."

• 1 Implicitly defendant presumes that the purpose of such an appointment is to ascertain whether a bona fide doubt exists as to a defendant's fitness to stand trial. To the contrary the statute clearly indicates that the purpose of such an appointment is to obtain expert testimony at a fitness hearing. A defendant is not entitled to a fitness hearing until the trial court has notice of facts raising a bona fide doubt as to his fitness to stand trial. (People v. McCullum, 66 Ill.2d 306, 362 N.E.2d 307.) It follows then that a defendant is not entitled to the appointment of an expert upon request, until there first exists a bona fide doubt as to the defendant's fitness. (People v. Hayes, 32 Ill. App.3d 953, 337 N.E.2d 280; People v. Clay, 19 Ill. App.3d 296, 311 N.E.2d 384.) Whenever it does appear during proceedings that there is a bona fide doubt of the defendant's fitness, it is the trial court's responsibility to stop the proceedings and determine the question of fitness before continuing. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-1(c); People v. Fontaine, 28 Ill. App.3d 450, 328 N.E.2d 685.) At this point under the terms of the statute, the appointment of an expert upon the request of either the defendant or the State is required by the court. However, the initial question of whether a bona fide doubt exists regarding fitness lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court and its determination will only be overturned for an abuse of discretion. People v. Carter, 16 Ill. App.3d 842, 306 N.E.2d 894.

• 2 In the instant cause, the court determined that there existed no bona fide doubt as to defendant's fitness, hence the court was not required to appoint an expert under the statute.

Secondly, defendant argues that the court applied the "wrong standard" in determining the question presented by defendant's petition. Section 5-2-1(a) of the Unified Code of Corrections provides that:

"For the purposes of this Section a defendant is unfit to stand trial or be sentenced if, because of a mental or physical condition, he is unable:

(1) to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him; or

(2) to assist in his defense."

Upon a close reading of defendant's argument it appears that based on section 5-2-1(a) defendant in fact contends that while the court specifically found that defendant was able to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings, the court erred in failing to make a specific finding that defendant was able to assist in his defense. The question thus presented is a technical one of whether in response to the petition presented such a specific finding is required in the record. We find no authority supporting defendant's argument. Defendants mischaracterizes the issue raised by the petition in arguing that the court must specifically find defendant fit to stand trial. Fitness is presumed unless the court receives notice of facts raising a bona fide doubt as to fitness. Consequently, that the court failed to make a specific finding that defendant was able to assist in his defense is of no import. Rather, review is limited to the question of whether the evidence presented raised a bona fide doubt as to defendant's fitness to stand trial so that the court's refusal to grant a fitness hearing was an abuse of discretion. We thus turn to defendant's third argument which squarely presents this question.

Defendant's petition, in attempting to raise a bona fide doubt of fitness, presented three allegations which were essentially that: (1) defendant had "attempted to do great bodily harm to himself by the consumption of toxic chemicals"; (2) defendant had a "history of mental illness"; and (3) defendant was unable to cooperate with his trial counsel because he "is obsessed with the well-being of his family." At the hearing on the petition, defendant stated under questioning by the court that he had consumed some disinfectant while in jail in order to be sent to a hospital where his estranged wife then was so that he might be able to see her. In regard to the second allegation, defendant stated that approximately ten years previously he had been committed to a State hospital and ...


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