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06/23/87 the People of the State of v. Charles W. Tate

June 23, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE

v.

CHARLES W. TATE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT

THE DEFENDANT, CHARLES W. TATE, APPEALS FROM HIS CONVICTION OF FORGERY. (ILL. RE

v.

STAT. 1985, CH. 38, PAR. 17-3(A)(2).) HE ARGUES THAT HE WAS DENIED A FAIR AND IMPARTIAL TRIAL BY THE PROSECUTOR'S COMMENTS DURING CLOSING ARGUMENTS. WE REVERSE.



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT

509 N.E.2d 801, 156 Ill. App. 3d 950, 109 Ill. Dec. 140 1987.IL.874

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. Bruce Falk, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE BARRY delivered the opinion of the court. WOMBACHER and HEIPLE, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE BARRY

The defendant was tried and convicted on a charge that he knowingly delivered a United States Treasury check which was apparently capable of defrauding another. That check was payable for $2,413 to Jean C. Yateman and was endorsed "Jean C. Yateman." It was delivered to a used-car dealership for purchase of an automobile.

The State's evidence included the following. Jean Yateman, the person to whom the check was made, testified that she did not receive the check, endorse it, or give anyone else authority to endorse it. She did not know the defendant.

James Martin, the car salesman who accepted the check as payment for an automobile, repeatedly testified that the defendant was the man who purchased a car with the check. The customer had identified himself as Charles Yateman and had presented the already-endorsed check. Martin testified he had spent approximately an hour, including a test drive, with the customer; had negotiated the sale over a small desk; and had recognized the customer numerous times thereafter when the customer had driven past the car dealership in a different vehicle.

Joseph Wichmann, a questioned-document examiner, testified that he had examined both handwriting samples from the defendant and the endorsement on the instant check. He concluded that the same person had written the samples and the endorsement, and supported his Conclusion with extensive testimony about his analysis.

The defendant's sole evidence was the parties' stipulation that salesman Martin had viewed a six-photograph lineup and selected the photograph of the defendant. In selecting the photograph, he stated: "That looks like the guy who bought the car, but I can't say for certain, but it sure looks like him."

In the initial segment of closing arguments, the prosecutor outlined some of the evidence and made the following comments regarding the defendant's identity as the customer who delivered the check:

"[We] know that Charles Tate is the person we are talking about. No uncertainty. You have not heard from anybody else in this courtroom. There has been no other testimony presented that anybody other than Charles Tate is the person that we are talking about."

Following additional review of the evidence, regarding the defendant's lack of authority the prosecutor stated:

"Finally, let's look at the intent to defraud. Something that you have not heard any direct testimony about, to be quite honest. There is only one person in this courtroom who can tell you, and that ...


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