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People v. Van Cleve





Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County, the Hon. John L. Hughes, Judge, presiding.


Rehearing denied March 25, 1982.

Randy Van Cleve and Donald Fields were found guilty by a jury in the circuit court of Lake County of rape (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 11-1) and unlawful restraint (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 10-3). The defendants moved to have the verdicts set aside because of insufficiency of the evidence. The court allowed the motions and entered a judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdicts. The appellate court dismissed an appeal of that judgment brought by the People. We granted the People's petition for leave to appeal to this court. 73 Ill.2d R. 315.

This appeal presents three questions: (1) whether our procedural law authorized the trial court to enter a judgment of acquittal following a verdict of guilty; (2) whether the People can appeal from the judgment in view of our constitution's provision that "after a trial on the merits in a criminal case, there shall be no appeal from a judgment of acquittal" (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 6); and (3) if an appeal lies, whether the trial court erred, considering the evidence, in entering the judgment.

The evidence presented a contest of credibility between the defendants and the prosecutrix. She testified that on the night of June 2, 1979, Van Cleve and Fields beat and raped her at the house of Lester Engleprite. She testified that she had gone to Engleprite's in search of a friend, Ed Shebonick. After the attacks, she walked to another friend's house over two miles away. She was aware that her own home and a police station were closer. It appears that the crime was not reported to the police until around noon on June 3.

Her testimony was corroborated in part by that of a physician, Dr. Charles Puig, who examined her on June 3. He testified that he found areas of discoloration and swelling, as well as abrasions on her body, including her face and arms.

A search of Engleprite's house produced articles of clothing that she said were left there on the night of June 2. A laboratory analysis revealed blood on a torn shirt and bra found in the search. Other tests disclosed the presence of semen and spermatozoa on jeans she said she had worn after being raped, and in specimens taken during the physical examination of the prosecutrix by Dr. Puig on June 3.

Both defendants testified. They admitted to having intercourse with the prosecutrix, but said that she had consented to intercourse after an evening of drinking beer and smoking marijuana. Fields claimed that she had intercourse with him because he had implied that he would buy drugs for her.

The defense also presented Engleprite's next-door neighbor, who testified that she heard no screams, although she was home with the windows open at the time of the crime charged. Her testimony was offered to contradict testimony of the prosecutrix that she screamed when she was being attacked.

A Lake County detective testified that he had met the prosecutrix at the hospital on the day Dr. Puig examined the prosecutrix. He said he observed no bruises or contusions on her face. A nurse present during Dr. Puig's examination also offered testimony that she had not observed any bruises or marks.

At the close of all the evidence, the defendants moved for directed verdicts, which motions were denied. After the verdicts were returned, the defendants made motions for a new trial, claiming insufficiency of the People's evidence. Van Cleve's motion expressly asked for a judgment of acquittal. The trial court entered a judgment of acquittal notwithstanding the verdicts for both defendants. In entering judgment, the court disclaimed any intention of usurping the jury's function as the finders of fact. The court said that the People had not introduced sufficient evidence to enable the jurors to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

When the People filed a notice of appeal, the defendants moved to dismiss the appeal. They relied upon decisions of the appellate court which held that our constitution prohibits the appeal of judgments of acquittal notwithstanding the verdict (People v. Wallerstedt (1979), 77 Ill. App.3d 677; People v. Augitto (1971), 1 Ill. App.3d 78). The appellate court allowed the motion and dismissed the appeal.

We consider first whether the trial court had authority to enter the judgment of acquittal.

The Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 100-1 et seq.), unlike the Civil Practice Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 110, par. 68.1(2)), does not provide expressly for a judgment ...

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