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People v. Pettit

OPINION FILED JUNE 26, 1981.

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

v.

JAMES O. PETTIT, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Ogle County; the Hon. F. LAWRENCE LENZ, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE REINHARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This case involves an appeal from a judgment finding defendant, James O. Pettit, a sexually dangerous person within the definition of the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 105-1.01 et seq.) and committing him to the Department of Corrections. Defendant appeals and asserts two grounds for reversal. First, defendant contends that the trial court erred in allowing him to stipulate to certain evidence, which resulted in his classification as a sexually dangerous person, without first admonishing him in order to ascertain the voluntariness of the stipulation. Defendant also asserts that certain statements made to his probation officer were obtained in violation of Miranda v. Arizona (1966), 384 U.S. 436, 16 L.Ed.2d 694, 86 S.Ct. 1602, and therefore should have been suppressed at his hearing.

On November 14, 1978, defendant was charged by indictment with eight counts of indecent liberties with a child, four counts of obscenity, and four counts of harmful material. On February 8, 1979, the State filed a petition for adjudication as a sexually dangerous person. The State alleged in its petition that defendant had been charged by indictment with the offense of indecent liberties with a child, Michael E.; that defendant had entered a plea of guilty to a previous charge of indecent liberties; that defendant was suffering from a mental disorder which had existed for more than one year prior to the filing of the petition and that the mental disorder was coupled with criminal propensities to commit sex crimes; that this was demonstrated by acts of sexual assault or molestation of children; and that he was deemed a sexually dangerous person. In his answer, defendant admitted that he had entered a plea of guilty to the previous charge of indecent liberties and also admitted that he had committed one of the indecent acts alleged in the petition with Michael E. Defendant, however, specifically denied the other incidents of indecent liberties and denied that he should be deemed a sexually dangerous person.

Pursuant to an order of the court, defendant was examined by two psychiatrists. Both psychiatrists diagnosed defendant's mental condition as pedophilia. Dr. Magnuson found defendant definitely to be a sexually dangerous person as defined by statute. It was the opinion of Dr. Kirts that defendant should be found a sexually dangerous person only if there was a strong evidentiary basis to the most recent incidents alleged in the petition.

The cause proceeded to a bench trial on May 16, 1979. At the hearing both parties stipulated that the psychiatrist's reports be admitted into evidence. Defense counsel also stipulated to the record of his prior conviction of indecent liberties with a child. After the stipulations were accepted, the State moved for judgment on the pleadings. The court denied the motion, finding that the admissions along with the stipulations did not prove that defendant was a sexually dangerous person beyond a reasonable doubt.

The complaining witness, Michael E., then testified that defendant was living with his mother and himself, that defendant had shown him "dirty" films, and that defendant had made him perform various indecent acts on different occasions.

Next, defendant's probation officer, Henry Patterson, testified that defendant was on probation for the prior conviction of indecent liberties. Patterson further testified that on July 17, 1978, he had an interview with the defendant and the victim's mother, Mrs. E., concerning the alleged incidents. At the interview, defendant stated that he was sorry for what had happened and he admitted that he needed help. Counsel for defendant objected to the admission of this testimony as being violative of Miranda warnings, and the court overruled the objection. Defendant was not arrested until October 1, 1978.

Mrs. E. then testified that her neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson, informed her that defendant might be molesting her son. She stated that she confronted Michael with this, and he confirmed her suspicions.

Next, Mr. Johnson testified that defendant had told him in December of 1976 that he had had sexual relations with a young boy. Johnson then stated that when he learned that defendant was living with Mrs. E., he informed her of the possibility that defendant might also be having relations with Michael E. because of the prior incident. He further testified that after Mrs. E. talked with Michael E., they confronted the defendant who admitted indecent liberties with Michael E.

The court then determined that defendant was a sexually dangerous person and ordered that he be committed to the Department of Corrections of the State of Illinois.

Defendant's first contention on appeal is that it was error for the court to allow defendant to stipulate to the psychiatric reports, his previous conviction for indecent liberties, and the fact that he had committed one of the indecent acts alleged in the petition. Defendant asserts that since these three stipulations supplied sufficient evidence to result in his classification as a sexually dangerous person, said stipulations were tantamount to a plea of guilty and, as such, entitled him to an admonishment of the trial judge so that it could be determined if the stipulations were voluntary and intelligent.

• 1 Illinois courts> have held that certain due process requirements beyond those authorized under the Act are applicable to proceedings under Sexually Dangerous Persons Act as it pertains to the privilege against self-incrimination (People v. English (1964), 31 Ill.2d 301, 201 N.E.2d 455), the right to confront witnesses and be present at all court proceedings (People v. Nastasio (1960), 19 Ill.2d 524, 168 N.E.2d 728) and the right to have the allegations against one be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. (People v. Pembrock (1976), 62 Ill.2d 317, 342 N.E.2d 28.) Yet due process of law does not require that all the safeguards and procedural requirements of a criminal prosecution must be followed. People v. Studdard (1972), 51 Ill.2d 190, 281 N.E.2d 678.

We disagree with defendant's claim that the procedure followed here violated his due process rights. The cases pertaining to stipulated bench trials, relied upon by the defendant, also do not support this contention. In People v. Stepheny (1974), 56 Ill.2d 237, 306 N.E.2d 872, the supreme court held that the defendant was entitled to be admonished prior to the entry of what amounted to, in effect, a plea of guilty. In that case, however, the record at the post-conviction hearing showed that counsel for the defendant had previously agreed to a procedure that amounted to a plea of guilty on a lesser charge and the trial was a sham. Similarly, in People v. Smith (1974), 59 Ill.2d 236, 319 N.E.2d 760, the supreme court held that the defendant must be admonished of the intended disposition of his trial when the parties stipulate both to the facts and that such evidence was sufficient to convict. These cases demonstrate that the stipulated bench trial will be deemed tantamount to a plea of guilty when the result itself has been agreed to prior to trial. Most recently our supreme court has further clarified Stepheny and Smith as follows:

"These cases are distinguishable from the case before us. There is no evidence that Paul's criminal trial was a sham, as in Stepheny, or that he stipulated that the evidence was sufficient to convict, as in Smith. The appellate court found that where a defendant stipulates to facts underlying an offense but leaves the determination of guilt or innocence based on those facts to the trier of facts, the stipulation is not the equivalent of a ...


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