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People v. Dixon





APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Du Page County; the Hon. HELEN C. KINNEY, Judge, presiding.


Defendant, Edwin Dixon, was convicted of forgery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 17-3(a)(2)) after trial by jury and sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment. He appeals, contending (1) that his statutory right to a speedy trial (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 103-5) was violated when, following a mistrial, he was retried more than 120 days after being taken into custody; and (2) that the trial judge erred in excluding expert testimony on the subject of the reliability of interethnic identification.

Defendant was arrested on June 9, 1978, and an indictment was returned against him for this offense on September 15, 1978. He entered a plea of not guilty on September 21, and the case proceeded to trial on October 23, 1978, which was, allowing for delays which he agrees were attributable to him, the 96th day of his custody. On defendant's motion, the mistrial was declared by the trial court on October 24 when a witness called by the State referred to other acts of forgery by defendant which the trial court had previously ruled inadmissible. The retrial commenced on February 5, 1979, which was 104 calendar days after the mistrial had been declared.

During the course of the second trial, in an effort to bolster defendant's alibi defense, he offered to prove by the testimony of a purported expert witness that interethnic identification is unreliable, particularly where white persons attempt to identify black persons. Defendant, who is a black man, was charged with forgery of a prescription; the proprietor of a pharmacy and his son, who are white, identified him as the person who presented the prescription at their place of business. On an objection by the State the trial court ruled the testimony inadmissible on the ground it related to a matter of common knowledge which did not require expert testimony to aid the jurors' understanding.

Section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 103-5) provides in part:

"(a) Every person in custody in this State for an alleged offense shall be tried by the court having jurisdiction within 120 days from the date he was taken into custody unless delay is occasioned by the defendant * * *."

Subsection (f) of the same statute, added in 1975 and amended in 1976, provides in part:

"(f) Delay occasioned by the defendant shall temporarily suspend for the time of the delay the period within which a person shall be tried as prescribed by subparagraphs (a), (b), or (e) of this Section and on the day of expiration of the delay the said period shall continue at the point at which it was suspended. * * * This subparagraph (f) shall become effective on, and apply to persons charged with alleged offenses committed on or after, March 1, 1977."

The enactment of subsection (f) altered the former rule that the 120-day period within which a person in custody must be tried began anew when delay was occasioned by the defendant (People v. Lee (1969), 44 Ill.2d 161, 254 N.E.2d 469) and, as it states, is to be applied only to persons charged with offenses alleged committed on or after March 1, 1977, as was defendant in the present case.

Defendant relies upon Justice Dooley's dissent in People v. Bazzell (1977), 68 Ill.2d 177, 369 N.E.2d 48, for his contention that by adding subsection (f) to section 103-5 the legislature intended to merely suspend the speedy trial period when a mistrial had been declared just as if the mistrial were delay occasioned by defendant. (See Bazzell, 68 Ill.2d 177, 184-86, 369 N.E.2d 48, 50-51.) He is willing to concede that any further delay in scheduling his case for retrial should also be charged to him (from October 23, 1978, the date the first trial commenced, to November 13, 1978, the date for which the retrial was originally scheduled) and argues that 152 days must then be considered to have elapsed since he was taken into custody requiring his discharge.

We do not agree. It was formerly the rule that in cases where a retrial was necessitated by declaration of a mistrial, a new statutory period commenced on the day the mistrial was ordered. (People v. Jonas (1908), 234 Ill. 56, 84 N.E. 685.) The rule has been altered by more recent decisions, however, wherein our supreme court has noted that under the former statute the declaration of a mistrial does not, in all cases, start the running of a new statutory period. (People v. Bazzell; People v. Aughinbaugh (1973), 53 Ill.2d 442, 292 N.E.2d 406; People v. Hudson (1970), 46 Ill.2d 177, 263 N.E.2d 473; People v. Gilbert (1962), 24 Ill.2d 201, 181 N.E.2d 167, cert. denied (1962), 371 U.S. 844, 9 L.Ed.2d 80, 83 S.Ct. 76.) The court has also recognized that although section 103-5 is designed to implement the constitutional right to a speedy trial, the two are not co-extensive. People v. Nowak (1970), 45 Ill.2d 158, 258 N.E.2d 313.

In People v. Gilbert the court found statutory considerations not to be dispositive of the speedy trial question in a mistrial context:

"The overriding consideration is the constitutional right to a speedy trial, and where delay is not attributable to the defendant, that right is not measured by aggregating successive periods of four months each." (24 Ill.2d 201, 205, 181 N.E.2d 167, 170.)

Thus it was the State's obligation, under prior versions of section 103-5, to retry a defendant in custody within 120 days after a mistrial, but an earlier trial might be necessary to satisfy the constitutional "reasonableness" test for a speedy trial. People v. Bazzell; People v. Gilbert; People v. Blackwell (1979), 76 Ill. ...

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