Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

09/27/94 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. JENNARAH WILLIAMS

September 27, 1994

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JENNARAH WILLIAMS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 92-CM-4024. Honorable Michael J. Fritz, Judge, Presiding.

Bowman, Doyle, Quetsch

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bowman

JUSTICE BOWMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Jennarah Williams, was convicted by a jury of two counts of resisting arrest and two counts of criminal battery. On one count of resisting arrest the court sentenced defendant to one year of court supervision, a $100 fine, and 50 hours of community service. On one count of battery she was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge, to be served concurrently with her court supervision for resisting arrest; a fine of $100; and 50 additional hours of community service. On appeal defendant raises numerous discovery and evidentiary issues, claims the trial court was biased against her, and asserts the trial court erred in (1) denying her motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, (2) denying her motion for mistrial, (3) refusing a jury instruction tendered by her, and (4) allowing the State to refile charges previously nol-prossed. We affirm.

On the morning of December 23, 1991, defendant was driving her automobile eastbound on Grandville Avenue in a residential area of the Village of Gurnee. As defendant approached an intersection, Gurnee police officer Kotrba was pulling up to the stop sign for the cross street of the intersection. The officer observed that there was no license plate on the front of defendant's auto. Since Grandville did not have a stop sign, defendant proceeded to enter the intersection even though, according to defendant's testimony, Kotrba drove in such a way that she was afraid he would not stop. After defendant passed by him, Kotrba observed that her rear license plate reflected an Illinois registration. Kotrba then turned onto Grandville and followed defendant but did not speed up or immediately activate his siren or lights, or otherwise signal to defendant to stop. A number of blocks, and several turns and stops later, Kotrba stopped defendant. Defendant testified that the police officer was directly behind her the whole time he followed her, while Kotrba said he delayed activating his lights until he caught up with defendant.

According to defendant's testimony, Kotrba did not say anything to her at first. He just walked toward the front of her car. She asked if there was something wrong, but Kotrba did not answer. He walked around to the back of the car and finally came back to the driver's window and told her she had no front license plate and had failed to signal a left turn she made off of Grandville. The officer asked for her name and address rather than her driver's license. Kotrba contradicted this testimony, claiming he asked defendant for her license six times. Defendant said she did not give the officer her name because she was puzzled and confused as to why he had not stopped her sooner and by his conduct after the stop. Because she would not give her name, Kotrba called for backup and, a few minutes later, several patrol cars converged on the area.

Defendant opened her car door to see what was going on. A man dressed in plain clothes spoke with Kotrba and then came over to her car and said, "baby girl, you can't do this." Although her testimony was later impeached, defendant stated during direct examination that the man did not identify himself as a police officer. She found out later that the man was Gurnee Police Chief John Ward. After a few moments defendant started to close the car door against the cold air, but Ward stopped her, said that he had had "enough of this," and reached through the door and grabbed defendant by the right wrist. Defendant, in turn, grabbed Ward's wrist, and Ward told her to turn him loose. When defendant immediately demanded that she also be let go, Ward released her wrist. Defendant then gave Ward her driver's license and stepped out of her car. The license turned out to be suspended, so the police told her they were going to take her to the station. A female officer, Sergeant Kincaid, put handcuffs on defendant, and she was placed in the back of a squad car.

The respective testimony of Officer Kotrba and Chief Ward regarding the occurrence leading to the charges against defendant was very similar and revealed the following sequence of events. When he arrived at the scene Chief Ward squatted or kneeled down next to the open window of defendant's car, showed her his badge, identified himself as chief of police, and asked if there was a problem. She responded that Kotrba had pulled her over for no reason. Ward told her that Kotrba stated she turned without signaling and had no front license plate. He explained that Kotrba needed her driver's license to issue two citations, and she would then be allowed to leave. Ward asked for defendant's driver's license three or four times before Kotrba told him the license of the registered owner of the car had been suspended. The description of the registered owner matched that of the defendant. Defendant refused still another request for her driver's license, commenting to the effect that she had done nothing wrong and that Officer Kotrba was picking on her.

The officers then told defendant that they were going to have to place her under arrest for driving on a suspended license. Still insisting she had done nothing wrong, defendant said she was not going anywhere and, according to Kotrba, locked her car door. Ward then reached through the open window to open the door from the inside, and defendant began to roll up the window. Kotrba put his weight on the window to stop it, and defendant grasped Ward's hand, scratching his palm deeply enough to draw blood. Ward released the inside doorknob and grabbed hold of defendant's wrist to restrain her. Kotrba then also reached inside the vehicle to try to unlock the door, but defendant slapped his hand away. On a second try, Kotrba successfully opened the car door, and the two officers stepped away from the vehicle. At that point defendant offered her driver's license which, indeed, had been suspended. She then got out of her car and was placed in the back of one of the squad cars until Sergeant Kincaid, who had been called to the scene by Kotrba and Ward, arrived. Kincaid testified that defendant was upset in that she seemed nervous and angry about the whole situation. Defendant was not uncooperative and seemed to Kincaid to be confused about what was going on.

Defendant was issued traffic citations for the missing license plate, for driving with a suspended driver's license, and for failure to signal a left turn. She was also served with a complaint for criminal battery. The traffic matters were resolved in due course in January 1992, and the battery charge was dismissed for want of prosecution. The resisting arrest charge in this case was initially filed under a citation but was dismissed in January 1992 for failure to file formal charges. An information on a charge of battery was subsequently filed and docketed but nol-prossed in July 1992. The informations in this case, for battery and resisting arrest, were filed in August 1992. At some time after the resisting arrest charge was initially filed, defendant wrote a letter of complaint concerning the incident to the Gurnee police department. She also filed a complaint with the sheriff's department of Lake County. Following her conviction and the denial of her post-trial motion, defendant filed this appeal.

Defendant presents 11 issues for our consideration. The bulk of these involve discovery and evidentiary rulings by the trial court, and the remainder assert a variety of errors. However, with regard to a number of issues, defendant's brief totally fails to comply with the requirements set forth by our supreme court. Supreme Court Rule 341(e)(7) (134 Ill. 2d R. 341(e)(7)) clearly states that the argument section of appellant's brief "shall contain the contentions of the appellant and the reasons therefor, with citation of the authorities and the pages of the record relied on. Evidence shall not be copied at length, but reference shall be made to the pages of the record on appeal * * * where evidence may be found." Each of defendant's issues I, II, IV, VI, and XI consists of one paragraph of Discussion, with no references to the pages of the record relied upon, and no citation to any authority. Moreover, the Discussions do not clearly set forth defendant's contentions or the reasoning underlying those contentions. Rather, some of them state a few facts and then announce a conclusory allegation, but do not show how the Conclusion was reached. Others simply make bald assertions or accusations with no support at all. Points raised but not argued or supported by citation to relevant authority do not satisfy the requirements of Supreme Court Rule 341(e)(7) (134 Ill. 2d R. 341(e)(7)) and may be deemed waived. ( People v. Patterson (1992), 154 Ill. 2d 414, 455, 182 Ill. Dec. 592, 610 N.E.2d 16.) A contention on appeal will be waived when it is supported only by conclusory statements, with no citation to authority. ( People v. Carpenter (1992), 228 Ill. App. 3d 899, 904-05, 170 Ill. Dec. 928, 593 N.E.2d 817.) The appellate court is not a depository in which defendant may dump the burden of argument and research. ( People v. Payton (1991), 208 Ill. App. 3d 658, 663, 153 Ill. Dec. 582, 567 N.E.2d 540.) Rather, we are entitled to a well-reasoned argument, along with the authority for such argument. (134 Ill. 2d R. 341(e)(7); People v. Ethridge (1993), 243 Ill. App. 3d 446, 470, 183 Ill. Dec. 61, 610 N.E.2d 1305.) In light of defendant's failure to comply with the rule, we consider issues I, II, IV, VI, and XI waived.

Defendant fares little better with regard to issue III. She claims she was improperly denied an opportunity to present evidence regarding Officer Kotrba's training and disciplinary record. While defendant does not make it clear, it appears the trial court denied defendant's motion to compel discovery of this information. Her argument seems to be that Kotrba's allegedly odd behavior before and in the course of the stop may have reflected a serious discipline problem, and he, wishing to avoid another disciplinary incident, may have been motivated to testify falsely regarding the stop.

Defendant cites People v. Phillips (1981), 95 Ill. App. 3d 1013, 51 Ill. Dec. 423, 420 N.E.2d 837, in support of her argument. Phillips, however, did not present the problem that exists in this case. One of the issues in Phillips was whether the officer's account of a shooting, in which he was involved, was true. Evidence of the officer's prior suspensions was improperly excluded since it was relevant to the officer's motive to testify falsely in order to avoid still another suspension. In contrast, despite defendant's effort to dwell on it, in this case the issue is not whether Kotrba told the truth about the manner in which he conducted the stop of defendant. The issue is whether defendant committed the offenses of battery and resisting arrest. Defendant does not explain how Kotrba's veracity about the procedures followed during the stop is relevant to the question of her guilt or innocence. Absent a showing of relevance, an order compelling discovery of the information sought by defendant would have amounted to nothing more than a fishing expedition. In deciding a discovery motion, it is the trial court's task to determine the relevance and materiality of the materials sought. ( People v. Gomez (1992), 236 Ill. App. 3d 283, 292, 177 Ill. Dec. 632, 603 N.E.2d 702.) The trial court has broad discretion in ruling on issues of relevance and materiality and its determination will not be disturbed absent an abuse of discretion. ( Gomez, 236 Ill. App. 3d at 292.) We find no such abuse in the trial court's denial of defendant's discovery motion.

The reasoning that applies to issue III also applies to issue X. Defendant claims the court erred when it quashed defendant's subpoena for a variety of police department records and records from the auto garage which towed defendant's car. We note that the State initially responds that this matter does not involve a subpoena, but only the motion to compel discovery discussed above. However, whether we consider this to be a case of a subpoena or a discovery motion does not matter. Either way, defendant cannot prevail.

As just discussed, whether discovery should be allowed is dependent upon the relevance and materiality of the information to be discovered. Similarly, the issuance of a pretrial subpoena requires, among other things, that the documents sought be evidentiary and relevant. (See People v. Shukovsky (1988), 128 Ill. 2d 210, 225, 131 Ill. Dec. 69, 538 N.E.2d 444, citing United States v. Nixon (1974), 418 U.S. 683, 699-700, 41 L. Ed. 2d 1039, 1059, 94 S. Ct. 3090, 3103; People ex rel. Fisher v. Carey (1979), 77 Ill. 2d 259, 269, 32 Ill. Dec. 904, 396 N.E.2d 17.) Once again, defendant fails to demonstrate how any of the documents she sought was relevant to the issues before the jury. She seems to claim she had a right to the information, but absent relevance to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.