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People v. Watson

OPINION FILED JUNE 27, 1980.

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

v.

BARBARA WATSON, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. HOWARD LEE WHITE, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE MILLS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied August 1, 1980.

The charge was perjury before the State Board of Elections.

Motion to dismiss was allowed.

We reverse and remand.

Specifically, it was charged that, where by law an oath was required, defendant made a false statement which was material to the issue in question — the notarizing of circulators' petitions which she did not believe to be true. The alleged false statements consisted of the following:

"Q. Were there any sheets that you received that had already been signed by circulators that you had notarized?

A. Possibly could have been picked up in the stack, but the best of my knowledge, no, that they would sign at least one in front of me.

Q. So your testimony is just so that I'm clear, is that every sheet that you notarized you either saw the person sign the sheet or the person told you that they had signed, the sheet, is that correct?

A. There was an instance where I notarized one set of petitions. There were several of them, of a person that was not there physically at the time. She had called me and had — she has used — she had at one time worked on our staff. I knew her signature and she sent it in by her son. She could not get in the office but I did know her signature and I did compare it with our old payroll records.

Q. Now, is there anybody else that you remember whose sheets you notarized but that you did not see sign?

A. Not that I remember. At times it got a little hectic but that is the only one. And like I say, she used to work in our office and I knew her signature."

Defendant filed a motion to dismiss the indictment prior to trial, asserting that the indictment failed to charge the offense of perjury in that the answers of the defendant were totally unresponsive to the questions and could not be the basis on which to predicate the charge of perjury, and that the indictment was fatally defective for charging the offense of perjury where by law no oath was required. The trial court held that the questioner at the State Board of Elections hearing should have pinned down the defendant to a greater extent. The court stated that it was not ruling on whether the oath was required by law. This appeal is from the trial court's dismissal of the indictment.

The State initially asserts that the questions and answers as set forth in the indictment were specific enough to ...


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