Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Henry R. Simmons, Judge Presiding.
Released for Publication March 31, 1997.
Presiding Justice Greiman delivered the opinion of the court. Zwick and Quinn, JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Greiman
PRESIDING JUSTICE GREIMAN delivered the opinion of the court:
Following a jury trial, defendant Keith Mosby was convicted of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle. The trial court found that the first offense (possession of a stolen motor vehicle) merged into the second offense (aggravated possession of a stolen motor vehicle) and imposed a five-year prison sentence.
On appeal, the sole issue raised by defendant is whether the trial court erred in failing to inquire whether the State had a race-neutral reason for using a peremptory challenge against one African-American venireperson (Stanley Washington) under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 90 L. Ed. 2d 69, 106 S. Ct. 1712 (1986). We find that the record does not support defendant's Batson challenge and affirm.
The record reveals that the trial judge conducted the entire voir dire and asked the same customary questions of all venirepersons, such as marital status and employment. The trial judge clearly used the answers to the standard juror cards, i.e., questionnaires completed by each venireperson, to determine whether or not further inquiry was required. Accordingly, the judge only posed further questions to a venireperson when warranted by an answer on the juror's card.
The first person questioned was Stanley Washington, whose subsequent exclusion by the State is the subject of the present appeal. Mr. Washington stated that he lived in the south suburban area of Chicago and has worked for a major food service cooperation as a business consultant for eight years. Mr. Washington is married with a seven-month-old child, and his wife has worked as a claim representative with an insurance company for three years. The trial judge observed that, on the jury form, Mr. Washington indicated that he knew a police officer, State's Attorney, public defender, a lawyer and a judge. During questioning, however, Washington stated that he was mistaken about knowing a State's Attorney.
Mr. Washington revealed that he knows Judge Porter, a criminal court judge, through Judge Porter's sons, sees Judge Porter once or twice a year, and talks to Judge Porter about his work on occasion. Washington stated that he knows several lawyers, some of whom practice criminal law, sees these lawyers every week, and talks to them about their jobs and their cases. In addition, Washington knows a public defender, sees him every week and talks to him about his job and work. Washington also knows an Indiana police officer, whom he sees once or twice a year, and talks to him about his occupation. Washington stated that his relationship with the above individuals would not cause him to be biased or unfair to either side.
The trial judge then questioned the next seven venirepersons in the same manner. After the judge concluded questioning the first panel, he held a conference in chambers to select jurors from the eight people interviewed. First, defense counsel excused a venireperson based on his statements that his best friend and his best friend's father are Chicago police district officers. Next, the State used a peremptory challenge to excuse Stanley Washington. Defense counsel made a Batson motion asking that the trial judge ask the State to offer a race-neutral reason for excluding Mr. Washington. The following exchange occurred:
"[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Judge, I would be making a motion for regarding Mr. Washington.
THE COURT: What is that motion?
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: Judge, a Batson motion at this point, that Mr. Washington is a male black, that he is one of four male blacks in this panel to be selected and I feel that the State needs to be inquired as to whether or not there is a race neutral reason for his exclusion on the jury. And, Judge, I further state that with regards to the panel of fourteen that have ...