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02/20/87 the People of the State of v. Stanley Boclair

February 20, 1987





519 N.E.2d 437, 119 Ill. 2d 368, 116 Ill. Dec. 545 1987.IL.185

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Livingston County, the Hon. William T. Caisley, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE RYAN delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE SIMON took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.


In the case giving rise to this appeal, Stanley Boclair was charged with four counts of murder in the circuit court of Livingston County. While preparing his defense, defendant's court-appointed counsel and investigator interviewed many persons who were listed by the State as potential prosecution witnesses. During the course of pretrial discovery, the State requested discovery of the notes taken during these interviews by the defendant's investigator. When defendant's attorney refused to turn the notes over to the State, as ordered by the trial court, he was held in contempt of court. The appellate court reversed the trial court's pretrial discovery order and the contempt citation (139 Ill. App. 3d 350), and we granted the State's petition for leave to appeal. We now reverse the appellate court and affirm the trial court's contempt citation.

On November 1, 1984, defendant was charged with four counts of murder in connection with an incident that occurred while he was an inmate at Pontiac Correctional Center. Pursuant to defendant's trial on these charges, pretrial discovery motions were filed by both defendant and the State. In response to defendant's request for a list of the State's witnesses, the State listed over 200 potential witnesses, most of whom were inmates or employees of Pontiac Correctional Center. Both the State and defendant requested discovery of memoranda and notes of the other's investigators that reflected oral statements given by a witness or a potential witness, pursuant to Supreme Court Rules 412(a) and 413(d) (87 Ill. 2d Rules 412(a), 413(d)).

At two hearings held before the trial court, defendant objected to the State's request that he produce notes of his investigator that were prepared during interviews of State witnesses. Defendant argued that the notes were not subject to pretrial discovery under Rule 413, that they were work product, and that his constitutional rights would be violated if he was required to produce the notes.

The trial court concluded that the notes were discoverable under Rules 413(d)(ii) and (e). The court ordered defendant to produce the notes for an in camera inspection to determine which, if any, portions of the notes were protected work product. The trial court inspected the notes, highlighted the discoverable portions, and ordered those portions produced. Defense counsel refused to produce the notes as ordered, and he was held in contempt and sentenced to "six days on conditional discharge conditioned upon [his] performing two hours of public service work."

Defendant's counsel sought review before the appellate court, and defendant's trial was continued pending the appellate court's decision. The appellate court reversed, concluding that production of the notes was not required under Rule 413, and that the notes were privileged under the work-product rule (87 Ill. 2d R. 412).

The State then filed its petition for leave to appeal to this court but did not seek a continuance of the trial or an expedited appeal. The underlying criminal action proceeded to trial and defendant was found guilty. The defense investigator's notes were produced at trial in accordance with the appellate court's decision.

The threshold question in this case is whether the issues raised by the parties are moot. Counsel argues that since the notes were produced at trial, and since defendant has been tried and convicted, this case is moot.

This court has held that a reviewing court must dismiss a pending appeal where the court has notice of facts which make it impossible to grant effective relief to either party. (George W. Kennedy Construction Co. v. City of Chicago (1986), 112 Ill. 2d 70, 76.) We will not render an opinion when it would have only an advisory effect. (People ex rel. Black v. Dukes (1983), 96 Ill. 2d 273, 276.) A case is considered moot when it "presents or involves no actual controversy, interests or rights of the parties, or where the issues have ceased to exist." People v. Redlich (1949), 402 Ill. 270, 278-79.

In the instant case, defendant's attorney was cited for contempt for refusing to turn over designated portions of his investigator's notes to the State prior to trial. This was a civil contempt (see People ex rel. Kazubowski v. Ray (1971), 48 Ill. 2d 413, 416, cert. denied (1971), 404 U.S. 818, 30 L. Ed. 2d 118, 92 S. Ct. 78), which could be purged by compliance with the terms of the trial court's order (Continental Illinois National Bank v. Brach (1979), 71 Ill. App. 3d 789, 792-93). While it appears that defendant's attorney did in fact produce the investigator's notes relating to actual witnesses during the trial, this production was not in compliance with the trial court's ...

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