Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County. No. 92-CF-215. Honorable Snyder Howell, Judge Presiding.
Petition for Leave to Appeal Denied June 2, 1994.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rarick
JUSTICE RARICK delivered the opinion of the court:
The defendant, Judy Polonowski, was initially charged on May 26, 1992, in the circuit court of Williamson County with second-degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. An additional charge of aggravated discharge of a firearm and three counts of first-degree murder were subsequently added. All were in connection with the shooting death of Robert Sprague.
On August 20, 1992, defendant indicated in her response to the State's motion for discovery that she would assert the defense of self-defense and that she was a woman with battered woman's syndrome acting in self-defense. On December 17, 1992, defendant filed a supplemental response disclosing Dr. Michael Althoff, a clinical psychologist, as an expert witness. On December 21, 1992, defendant advised assistant State's Attorney Mike Ruffley that Dr. Althoff would be called as an expert witness and that it was his opinion that defendant suffered from battered woman's syndrome and was acting in self-defense when she shot Sprague. Dr. Althoff's complete report was produced on January 4, 1993.
On June 1, 1993, defendant moved to dismiss the charges, arguing that Williamson County State's Attorney Charles Garnati was engaged to Tamara Koegel, the niece of the wife of defendant's expert, Dr. Althoff, and that such relationship created a conflict of interest. Defendant also argued that the prosecutor's failure to disclose this information during discovery constituted prosecutorial misconduct. Dr. Althoff, a psychologist, had rendered an opinion that defendant suffered from "battered woman's syndrome" and had acted in self-defense when she killed Sprague. Defendant's motion further alleged that she had disclosed Dr. Althoff's name and his opinion during discovery.
Defense counsel first learned of the relationship in question on May 28, 1993, when he met with Dr. Althoff for trial preparation. During the Discussion with Dr. Althoff, defense counsel revealed his theory of defense and critical matters of trial strategy. At that point, Dr. Althoff told defense counsel that he would be related to the State's Attorney by marriage in two weeks.
A hearing on defendant's motion to dismiss was held on July 8, 1993. Garnati testified that although he had filed the initial charges against defendant and was "probably" still personally handling the case in August of 1992, assistant State's Attorney Ruffley took over the prosecution of the case "possibly" in December of 1992. Garnati was not sure if his assistants knew of his relationship with Dr. Althoff. He testified that his assistants kept him "somewhat" advised of the progress of the case, and that he would expect them to consult him before making any major decisions.
Garnati indicated that he and Koegel had dated for about two years and became engaged in January of 1993. They were married at the time of the hearing. Garnati was not certain when he became aware that Dr. Althoff was married to Koegel's aunt, but he knew it prior to becoming engaged to Koegel.
Garnati also testified that he does not see Dr. Althoff socially, nor does he consider him a member of the family. He had seen Dr. Althoff a total of four times in his life, including the hearing. Neither he nor Dr. Althoff had discussed anything about defendant's case with each other.
Finally, Garnati testified that he did not notify defense counsel that Koegel was related by marriage to Dr. Althoff because he saw no legal or ethical duty to do so.
Dr. Althoff testified that defense counsel employed him in the fall of 1992 and that he had evaluated the defendant and submitted a report to defense counsel. Dr. Althoff stated that he had not discussed anything about the defendant's case with Garnati and that any such Discussion would violate the doctor-patient privilege.
Dr. Althoff testified that he and Koegel's aunt were married in November of 1990 and that he had seen Koegel only twice in the past year, including her wedding. He indicated that he had ...