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People v. Kifer

OPINION FILED AUGUST 14, 1979.

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

v.

JAMES KIFER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Randolph County; the Hon. JERRY D. FLYNN, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GEORGE J. MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant appeals from a judgment of the circuit court of Randolph County finding him guilty of the crime of battery and sentencing him to 6 months' imprisonment at the Vandalia Correctional Center.

While this appeal was pending and while defendant was still incarcerated, the defendant through the office of the State Appellate Defender made a motion for an expedited appeal and a motion to proceed by memorandum instead of a brief. The State Appellate Defender stated the defendant would be likely to serve his full sentence before this court could hear the defendant's appeal unless the defendant's appeal was expedited.

This court granted defendant's motion to expedite and after reading defendant's memorandum and a transcript of the record in this cause entered an order granting defendant bond on his own recognizance. However, the defendant was released from confinement because he had completed his sentence the day this court granted him bond.

We find it unfortunate that the trial court did not grant defendant bond pending appeal in this case. We also find it unfortunate that many other trial courts> do not grant defendants bond pending appeal in misdemeanor cases. The result of this practice is that many, if not the majority, of those who are sentenced because of misdemeanor convictions serve their time before this court can review their appeals. Thus defendants in many, if not most, misdemeanor cases are deprived of their right to appeal which is guaranteed them by the constitution of this State.

On June 26, 1978, the defendant was charged with the crime of battery by information filed by the State's Attorney of Randolph County. The information charged that defendant without legal justification, intentionally caused bodily harm to Martha Kifer in that he struck her in the mouth with his fist. A warrant of arrest was issued and defendant's bail was set in the amount of $2500.

The defendant was arraigned before the circuit court of Randolph County.

The trial court instructed the defendant on the elements of the charge of battery, the defendant's right to a lawyer, his right to a trial by jury and his right to call witnesses in his behalf.

The following are some exchanges between the trial court and the defendant:

"Court: Are you ready this morning to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty to the charge?

Defendant: Yes, sir.

Court: Do you have any questions before you enter that plea?

Defendant: I don't have a question. I like to tell you what happened.

Court: In that case, sir, if you have no questions, how do you wish to plead to the charge of battery?

Defendant: I am pleading guilty. Can I explain what happened?

Court: Just a moment, sir. I am going to ask if you wish to plead guilty that you sign a written plea of guilty.

Defendant: Friday afternoon she wanted to drop these charges, but she couldn't get ahold of the right person to do it because she called back down to the jail and she said it didn't do any good.

Court: The only thing I can say —

Defendant: You don't know this. I am just saying we talked to each other on the phone Friday about it twenty-five minutes.

Court: Do you still wish to plead guilty, sir?

Defendant: I want to plead guilty because I want to get this over with. It's hard for me to get a job and I do have a job.

Court: If you want to plead guilty, sir, I need you to sign where I marked on there with an X. Sir, would you tell me in your own words what happened.

Defendant: I was driving my own car down the highway. I had taken her out to see about a house. She is house hunting. We live in a two room apartment and that's too crowded. We was going out towards Red Bud and we kept arguing about this and that and I asked her to quiet down; she was making me nervous driving. So she kept it up this and that and finally she called me a name and I don't think anybody likes to be called, I'll tell you the name if you want to know, a nigger. She called me a black nigger and she no more than said it and I like that, my niece was sitting here and she was sitting next to the door —

Court: You indicating you hit her with the back of your hand?

Defendant: Back of my hand. ...


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