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04/28/87 the People of the State of v. Henry J. Romanski

April 28, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

HENRY J. ROMANSKI, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

507 N.E.2d 887, 155 Ill. App. 3d 47, 107 Ill. Dec. 734 1987.IL.554

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. William H. Young, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE HEIPLE delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and WOMBACHER, J., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE HEIPLE

As a result of statements made during his closing argument before a jury, attorney Henry Romanski was found guilty of contempt. He was also fined and placed on conditional discharge for one year. Upon review of the record, we are unable to find that Romanski's actions were contemptuous. Therefore, we reverse.

On September 26, 1985, Romanski was representing Joseph Malone in a jury trial in Peoria County. Prior to closing arguments, the assistant State's Attorney submitted a motion in limine. He sought to prohibit any argument during closing statements which would inform the jury that a conviction could result in the defendant's discharge from the Marine Corps. The trial Judge initially stated that such an argument would be improper and that if it were made, he would sustain the State's objection. After further discussing the propriety of this argument with trial counsel, the trial court stated:

"Well, I suppose then the best thing is to grant the Motion in Limine. Court will grant it and order Mr. Romanski and the defendant not to mention -- not to argue anything about possible sentence or punishment that could be imposed should the defendant be convicted." (Emphasis added.)

During Romanski's closing statement, the following interchange took place:

"MR. ROMANSKI: What about his future? What about the fact he's a private in the United States Marine Corps? What is that going to do to his service if he is convicted?

MR. TONER [Assistant State's Attorney]: Objection.

THE COURT: Sustained. That remark is stricken and the jury is instructed to disregard that remark.

MR. ROMANSKI: A conviction should not be taken lightly. A conviction will follow somebody for the rest of their lives, and a conviction can be obtained if you believe ...


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