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01/20/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. BILLY E. WILLIAMS

January 20, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,
v.
BILLY E. WILLIAMS, ET AL., APPELLEES.



Nickels, Harrison, Freeman, McMORROW

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Nickels

JUSTICE NICKELS delivered the opinion of the court:

The 25 defendants below were charged by uniform Illinois traffic and complaint citations with a variety of misdemeanor offenses including, but not limited to, driving under the influence (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-501), driving on a suspended license (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 6-303), driving while licensed revoked (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 6-303), and illegal transportation of alcohol (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 11-502). The offenses allegedly committed by the 25 defendants are unrelated. In each case, the public defender of Williamson County was appointed to represent defendants. Prior to trial, defendants, through the public defender, moved to dismiss all charges under the speedy-trial provisions of Supreme Court Rule 505 (113 Ill. 2d R. 505). All motions to dismiss were granted. The cases were joined on appeal because the procedural process involved and the speedy-trial issue were the same in each case, except for defendant Charles Watson, who is discussed separately. The appellate court affirmed the dismissals (No. 5-89-0280 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23)), with one Justice Dissenting. This court then granted the State's petition for leave to appeal (134 Ill. 2d R. 315).

The record reveals that defendants were charged with their respective offenses by citations at various times in 1988. The citations directed defendants to appear in court on different dates for their first appearances, but all dates were set between 14 and 49 days after defendants' arrests in accordance with Supreme Court Rule 504 (113 Ill. 2d R. 504). One defendant, Charles Watson, failed to appear on his first appearance date, as he was incarcerated on unrelated charges. All other defendants appeared on their first appearance dates, at which time the public defender was appointed to represent them. After the public defender was appointed, the trial court set arraignments in all cases. The State does not assert, nor does the record indicate, that defendants requested this delay for arraignment. Interrogatories to the trial Judge show that he followed this procedure when a defendant faced possible imprisonment for an alleged offense. The State does not claim and the record does not show that the State objected to this procedure. At the time of the arraignments, defendants pleaded not guilty and made jury trial demands. With the exception of one defendant who made a written jury demand, all other demands were made orally. The time between each defendant's arrest and jury trial demand differed in all 24 cases. In four of the cases, the time between defendants' arrests and defendants' jury trial demands exceeded 120 days. In seven cases, the time between defendants' arrests and defendants' jury trial demands was between 100 and 120 days. In the remaining cases, the time between defendants' arrests and defendants' jury trial demands was between 70 and 100 days. In each case, after a jury trial demand was made, a jury trial date was set beyond 120 days from defendants' arrest, and the public defender moved to dismiss the pending charges against each defendant. On April 4, 1989, the circuit court dismissed all cases now on appeal because more than 120 days had elapsed since the time of defendants' arrests.

Charles Watson was arrested on August 9, 1988, for driving on a suspended license (No. 88-TR-6206) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 6-303), and for having no rear registration light (No. 88-TR-6207) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 95 1/2, par. 12-201(c)). He failed to appear for the scheduled court appearance for these charges on September 14, 1988, because he was incarcerated on four unrelated charges that occurred on September 3, 1988. He was not released on bond on the four later charges until October 31, 1988. Counsel was appointed for Watson on October 26, 1988. The State argues that the record fails to disclose that Watson ever demanded a jury trial for No. 88-TR-6206 and No. 88-TR-6207. However, defendant Watson claims that he was arraigned for all charges on November 17, 1988, and the docket minutes for the September 3, 1988, charges show that a jury demand was made. Watson argues that it is reasonable to conclude from this record that the jury demand was made for all charges at that time, including No. 88-TR-6206 and No. 88-TR-6207.

The issue before us is whether a defendant must inform the circuit clerk of his or her decision to plead not guilty and demand a jury trial at least five days before the first appearance date is scheduled in order to invoke the 120-day speedy-trial requirement of Rule 505. The State argues that a traffic defendant must affirmatively act to invoke his right to a speedy trial by one of two ways. First, a defendant can notify the circuit clerk at least five days prior to his first scheduled court appearance that he intends to plead not guilty and/or to request a jury trial. Failing to do that, a defendant can still file a written demand for speedy trial pursuant to section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 103-5). Neither procedure was done here with respect to any of the defendants. Defendants reply that their failure to notify the circuit clerk at least five days prior to their scheduled court appearances of their intent to plead not guilty and demand a jury trial does not result in a waiver of their speedy-trial rights under Rule 505. They claim that they are entitled to a speedy trial once they demand a jury trial.

At the time these offenses were committed, Supreme Court Rule 505 provided the following:

"When issuing a Uniform Citation and Complaint, a conservation complaint or a Notice to Appear in lieu of either, in counties other than Cook, the officer shall also; issue a written notice to the accused in substantially the following form:

AVOID MULTIPLE COURT APPEARANCES

If you intend to plead 'not guilty' to this charge, or if, in addition, you intend to demand a trial by jury, so notify the clerk of the court at least 5 days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays or holidays) before the day set for your appearance. A new appearance date will be set, and arrangements will be made to have the arresting officer present on that new date. Failure to notify the clerk of either your intention to plead 'not guilty' or your intention to demand a jury trial may result in your having to return to court, if you plead 'not guilty' on the date originally set for your court appearance.

Upon timely receipt of notice that the accused intends to plead 'not guilty,' the clerk shall set a new appearance date not less than 7 days nor more than 49 days after the original appearance date set by the arresting officer, and notify all parties of the new date and the time for appearance. If the accused demands a trial by jury, the trial shall be scheduled within 120 days of arrest. The proper prosecuting attorney shall be served with any separate written demand for speedy trial under section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, as amended (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 103-5). If the accused fails to notify the clerk as provided above, the arresting officer's failure to appear on the date originally set for appearance may, in counties other than Cook, be considered good cause for a continuance. Any State agency or any unit of local government desiring to be exempt from the requirements of this Rule 505 may apply to the Conference of Chief Circuit Judges for an exemption." 113 Ill. 2d R. 505.

Rule 505 has since been amended and now provides that "trial shall be scheduled within a reasonable period" if the accused demands a jury trial. It further states that "in order to invoke the right to a speedy trial, the accused if not in custody must file an appropriate, separate demand, as provided in section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, as amended (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 37, par. 103-5)." 134 Ill. 2d R. 505.

The appellate court concluded that defendants' failure to timely notify the clerk prior to their first court appearance did not relieve the State of its obligation to try defendants within 120 days of arrest when defendants demanded a jury trial. The court relied upon People v. Mears (1980), 84 Ill. App. 3d 265, 405 N.E.2d 443, wherein the defendant did not notify the clerk of his intent to plead not guilty, but entered his plea on his first appearance date. The Mears court held that the defendant's plea of not guilty on his appearance date was sufficient to invoke the 49-day speedy-trial term for bench trials as required under Rule 505. ( Mears, 84 Ill. App. 3d at 270; contra People v. Honnold (1989), 191 Ill. App. 3d 340, 547 N.E.2d 755.) The appellate court herein reasoned from Mears that the instant defendants did not waive their right to a speedy trial by failing to notify the clerk of their jury-trial demand prior to their appearance date. The court found the 120-day rule mandatory, citing the language in People v. Rideout (1990), 193 Ill. App. 3d 884, 890, 550 N.E.2d 632.

The State distinguishes Mears on the ground that the defendant there entered his plea on his appearance date, guaranteeing the State 49 days to bring the defendant to a bench trial. (113 Ill. 2d R. 505.) In the cases at bar, no plea was entered nor was a jury demand made on the appearance date by any defendant. Rather, the public defender was appointed and arraignments were set, in some cases beyond 120 days from arrest. The State urges that this court follow People v. Ware (1976), 41 Ill. App. 3d 902, 355 N.E.2d 142, wherein the appellate court found that a defendant's failure to make a timely demand for a jury trial, i.e., five days ...


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