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People v. Anderson





Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. John J. Crowley, Judge, presiding.


On September 5, 1978, the defendant, Clifford Anderson, shot and killed the manager and the engineer of the apartment building where he lived and was employed as a janitor. He was indicted on two counts of murder and two counts of armed violence. At trial he defended on the ground of insanity. His first trial in the circuit court of Cook County ended in a mistrial when the jury could not reach a verdict. Ten days later the defendant was tried a second time and found guilty on all counts. After a bifurcated sentencing hearing, the jury sentenced him to death. The case is before us on direct appeal (87 Ill.2d R. 603).

The defendant concedes that the only material issue at trial was his sanity, and thus an extended discussion of the facts is unnecessary. To establish his defense, the defendant called a psychiatrist, his roommate, and his sister. The psychiatrist had interviewed Anderson and reviewed various psychiatric and criminal records, as well as letters written by or at the direction of Anderson. In response to a hypothetical question, the expert testified that the defendant could not conform his conduct to the requirements of the law at the time of the shootings. On cross-examination he stated that the defendant probably was unable to appreciate the criminality of his acts.

The defendant's roommate and cousin, Ora Russell, related that Anderson had been concerned for months that the building was "going condo" and that Anderson had him write two or three hundred letters to various agencies complaining about what Anderson perceived was happening. Anderson was apparently fired from his job on September 2. Anderson woke Russell up at 6 a.m. on the morning of September 5 and appeared not to have slept. At Anderson's request, Russell wrote letters and made phone calls to a government agency, the news media, and a union. After speaking to the union, defendant seized a gun and went out. The shootings followed. Russell said he thought Anderson was "crazy" and described his behavior on the day of the killings as "wild."

Anderson's sister testified to a history of mental illness in the family. She also identified certified commitment papers on the defendant's mother and brother.

In rebuttal the State presented its own psychiatric expert, who concluded that Anderson was legally sane. By stipulation, a written statement of another psychiatrist who believed that the defendant was sane was also introduced. In addition, the prosecution elicited testimony from three building residents who witnessed some of the events of September 5 and said that they had never noticed anything unusual about Anderson or seen him in a rage. The arresting police officer and an assistant State's Attorney who interviewed the defendant on the day of the shootings both stated that Anderson appeared normal.

The defendant raises some 35 issues on this appeal concerning his convictions and the sentence of death which was imposed. We need only address two of these.

The defendant contends that he was denied a fair trial when the State introduced evidence of his responses to Miranda warnings to establish his sanity. Officer Ken Riess testified that, shortly after the defendant arrived at the lockup, his partner read the Miranda warnings to the defendant and the defendant replied that "he understood and that he had no more to say to us." The officer stated that Anderson subsequently requested a lawyer. The evidence was admitted over defense objection, and the trial judge instructed the jury that it could only be used "for the limited purpose of considering the state of mind, the ability to comprehend, to understand what his mental condition was."

Assistant State's Attorney Michael Melber testified that when he read Anderson his rights later in the day, the defendant said that he understood the rights and, after inquiring about the condition of the victims, again asked for an attorney. The judge reiterated that the evidence could be used in a "limited fashion only as bearing upon the issue of the defendant's mental condition." In both initial and rebuttal closing arguments, the prosecution emphasized that the defendant's responses to the Miranda warnings showed his "ability to appreciate the criminality of his act and to conform his conduct to the law."

This case is controlled by our recent decision in People v. Stack (1986), 112 Ill.2d 301. In Stack, the prosecution sought to disprove a claim of insanity by showing that the defendant was lucid enough to invoke his privilege against self-incrimination shortly after the incident. This court, following a decision by the United States Supreme Court on the identical issue (Wainwright v. Greenfield (1986), 474 U.S. 284, 88 L.Ed.2d 623, 106 S.Ct. 634), held that the introduction of such evidence breached the promise implicit in the Miranda warnings that the exercise of the fifth amendment privilege would not be used against the defendant and thus deprived him of a fair trial. The court also determined in Stack that the rule applied in Greenfield should be given retroactive effect. 112 Ill.2d 301.

The State asserts that any error in admitting testimony concerning the defendant's responses to the Miranda warnings was harmless because it was offered only to establish that the defendant was able to appreciate the criminality of his conduct. According to the State, the evidence worked no prejudice since the defense (in its view) was based solely on the other prong of the insanity test, the inability of the accused to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 6-2).

Even assuming the State's unsupported thesis that the responses did tend to prove that the defendant appreciated the criminality of his conduct but did not bear on the ability to conform, the State's argument fails here. The prosecution explicitly told the jury that the evidence established the defendant's sanity under both prongs of the insanity defense, and this argument was consistent with the judge's admonitions. The State cannot now maintain that the jury ignored the advice and disregarded the evidence. The State's additional argument that the error was harmless because the other evidence of sanity was overwhelming is without merit given the sharp disagreement of the expert witnesses on the question. The defendant's convictions must therefore be reversed and the cause remanded for a new trial.

A further question which arose at both of the defendant's previous trials, and which is likely to recur at a new trial, is to what extent the defendant's expert witness could disclose to the jury the basis for his diagnosis. Specifically, the defendant challenges the judge's ruling that his psychiatric expert could not reveal facts or opinions contained in reports upon which he relied in making his diagnosis. The defendant also argues that the court was incorrect in preventing the psychiatrist from recounting specific statements made by the ...

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