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People v. Grant

OPINION FILED MAY 26, 1978.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

SETH GRANT, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Logan County, the Hon. John T. McCullough, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a jury trial in the circuit court of Logan County, the defendant, Seth Grant, was convicted of aggravated battery and obstructing a police officer. The court entered judgment on both verdicts, but sentenced the defendant to 3 to 9 years of imprisonment only for the offense of aggravated battery. A divided appellate court reversed the convictions and remanded the cause for a new trial so that the jury could be instructed on both an insanity defense and on the defense of involuntary conduct. (46 Ill. App.3d 125, 131.) We granted the State leave to appeal.

The evidence adduced at trial indicated that the defendant is an epileptic who is susceptible to both grand mal and psychomotor seizures. It was also established that during the 2 1/2 hours prior to the incident which precipitated defendant's arrest, defendant had four mixed drinks at a tavern. A fight erupted at the tavern, and the police officer who arrived to quell the fight was struck by the defendant.

The defendant was arrested and transported to the city jail. There, within the hour, he was discovered lying on a cell cot, gasping for breath and convulsing in a manner symptomatic of a grand mal seizure. He was immediately rushed to a Lincoln hospital, and, later that night, was taken to a Springfield hospital. The following morning, defendant was examined and interviewed by a physician specializing in psychiatry. The physician's diagnosis at that time was that the defendant suffers from acute alcoholism and epilepsy. The physician, called by defendant, testified that, in his opinion, the defendant was experiencing a psychomotor seizure at the time he struck the police officer, and that defendant lacked the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.

The physician provided the only expert testimony on epilepsy. He characterized a grand mal seizure as the form most commonly associated with epilepsy, one in which the epileptic becomes unconscious and may chew his tongue and lose control of his excretory functions. The psychomotor seizure, he testified, is less obvious to the lay observer. An epileptic lapsing into a psychomotor seizure may be completely mobile and may converse, although with reduced coherence. He noted, however, that a psychomotor seizure is similar to a grand mal seizure in that it is a trance-like state during which the epileptic is unaware of what he is doing or what he has done and is incapable of controlling his actions. Although alcohol, as well as excitement and hyperventilation, may precipitate a psychomotor seizure, the furor of a seizure, once commenced, is independent of the intoxication. A psychomotor seizure can last for seconds or minutes and often precedes a grand mal seizure.

The State, in an effort to convince the jury that the defendant was not in the throes of an epileptic seizure at the time he struck the officer, elicited testimony to show that the defendant's actions, both during and after the tavern incident, belied the symptoms typical of psychomotor seizures, that the defendant's actions were more likely precipitated by his alcohol consumption and his propensity toward antisocial behavior, and that the defendant may have simulated symptoms in order to deceive the doctor and escape criminal responsibility for his actions. The record reflects that the defendant has a complicated medical and legal history. At the time of the tavern incident, the defendant was taking medication to control both his epileptic condition and his nervousness. The physician, on direct examination, testified that defendant's case history included a number of violent attacks on other persons: on one occasion, the defendant had assaulted a nurse with a knife; on another, while in a drunken state, he shot a man. He stated that defendant had been jailed numerous times for drunkenness and fighting.

At the conference on instructions, both the State and the defendant tendered jury instructions regarding the defense of insanity. The trial court chose to tender the State's instruction, taken from Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction, Criminal, No. 24.01 (1968), which reads:

"A person is insane and not criminally responsible for his conduct if at the time of the conduct, as a result of mental disease or mental defect, he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law.

Abnormality manifested only by repeated criminal, or otherwise anti-social conduct, is not mental disease or mental defect." (IPI, Criminal No. 24.01 (1968).)

The defendant objected only to the second paragraph. The defendant also objected to the verdict forms which instructed the jury that if it concluded that defendant was not guilty by reason of insanity, it must find further either that he was still insane or that he had recovered from his condition of insanity. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 115-4(j).) The defendant tendered no instruction on any theory other than insanity.

In the appellate court, the defendant urged, generally, that the insanity instruction and verdict forms, considered together, confused the jury and misstated the law. More specifically, the defendant argued that it was unclear whether the condition of epilepsy or the epileptic seizure was the "mental disease or mental defect" referred to in the insanity instruction. The defendant asserted that the verdict forms aggravated the confusion in that the defendant might be considered recovered from the seizure, but still insane with respect to his epileptic condition. The divided appellate court, in reversing the conviction, did not conclude that the insanity instruction and verdict forms confused the jury. Instead, it held that the failure of the trial court to sua sponte instruct the jury on the defense of involuntary conduct was a substantial defect requiring the reversal of defendant's conviction. We note that the defendant did not try the case on an involuntary conduct defense, did not cite in his post-trial motion the failure to instruct the jury on such a defense, and did not argue in the appellate court that such instruction should have been given.

We emphasize that, under Illinois law, the burden of preparing jury instructions, in criminal as well as in civil cases, is primarily on the parties, not on the trial court. (58 Ill.2d R. 451; Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 110, par. 67.) We have repeatedly pronounced that, with certain exceptions, the trial court is under no obligation to give jury instructions not requested by counsel. (People v. Springs (1972), 51 Ill.2d 418, 425; People v. Damen (1963), 28 Ill.2d 464, 469.) This is particularly true when the evidence adduced at trial is amenable to alternative theories. It is not enough merely to introduce relevant evidence. If a defendant does not articulate his theory in argument, and fails to tender jury instructions identifying it, he cannot reasonably expect the trial court, unaided, to divine his intent. The record in this case reveals, quite unmistakably, that the defendant proceeded at trial and on appeal solely on the theory of insanity. His objections, limited to the second paragraph of the insanity instruction and to the verdict forms, in no way preserved his right to object that an instruction on the defense of involuntary conduct was not given. Therefore, unless the omission of an instruction on involuntary conduct constituted such a substantial defect that the failure of the trial court to sua sponte give it resulted in an unfair trial, such omission shall be disregarded on appeal. 58 Ill.2d R. 615(a).

To appreciate precisely the defect to which the defendant refers, we must examine the kindred relationship between the defense of involuntary conduct and the insanity ...


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