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03/21/97 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. JOHN K. STEINMETZ

March 21, 1997

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JOHN K. STEINMETZ, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 93--CF--2711. Honorable John R. Goshgarian, Judge, Presiding.

Rule 23 Order Redesignated Opinion and Ordered Published March 21, 1997. Released for Publication April 24, 1997.

The Honorable Justice Colwell delivered the opinion of the court. Geiger, P.j., and Bowman, J., concur.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colwell

JUSTICE COLWELL delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, John Steinmetz, was convicted of felony retail theft (720 ILCS 5/16A--3(a) (West 1992)). Defendant appeals, contending that (1) the trial court should have conducted a hearing on defendant's fitness to stand trial where the record shows that defendant was taking psychotropic medication at the time of trial; (2) the court erred in denying defendant's motion for a continuance to obtain medical records to support his insanity defense; and (3) the court erred in requiring defendant to stand trial in his jail uniform.

Daniel Meier, a part-time security guard at a Jewel store, saw defendant take 10 packs of cigarettes from a display and put them in a shopping basket carried by a male companion. As defendant and his companion proceeded down aisle 5, defendant put the cigarettes in his jacket pocket. He then went to the front of the store and sat down. After his companion went through the checkout line and paid for items in the basket, defendant started to leave the store.

Meier detained the pair because defendant had not paid for the cigarettes. When Meier confronted defendant, he initially denied that he had any cigarettes. He then gave Meier two packs, then another two packs. The remaining packs fell to the floor and defendant tried to kick them under a display case. Defendant then said that he had forgotten to pay for the cigarettes.

An information filed December 16, 1993, charged defendant with retail theft. The charge was enhanced to a felony because defendant had prior theft convictions.

Defendant filed a motion requesting a hearing on his fitness to stand trial. The motion asserted, among other things, that defendant advised defense counsel that he had undergone psychiatric care for bipolar disorder and was then taking Lithium, Valium, and Doxepin. The motion also recited defense counsel's personal observations of defendant and concluded that he was unable to understand the nature of the proceedings or assist in his defense.

On February 18, 1994, the court found defendant unfit to stand trial. The court ordered him placed in the custody of the Department of Mental Health for evaluation and treatment.

The court held another fitness hearing on August 25, 1994. Defense counsel stipulated to the contents of a report from the Elgin Mental Health Center. The report, prepared by psychologist Connie Kinast, states that defendant had been prescribed psychotropic medication, specifically, Diazepam and Lithium Carbonate. Kinast concluded that defendant was fit to stand trial.

Defense counsel contended, however, that defendant remained unfit. Defendant testified. After considering the report, defendant's testimony, and counsels' arguments, the court found defendant fit to stand trial, on the same date of August 25, 1994, and set the case for trial on September 19, 1994.

On September 16, defendant filed and the court heard a motion to continue the trial date but apparently did not rule on the motion. The motion alleged that defendant was not prepared for trial because his "extensive mental health history" was "being compiled." The motion further alleged:

"Most of these in-patient hospitalizations do appear to impact on the defendant's mental state at the time of the commission of the alleged offense as each appear [sic] to be related to the same ongoing ...


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