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03/17/98 PEOPLE STATE ILLINOIS v. LEROY LADD

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
LEROY LADD, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 95-CF-427 Honorable James M. Radcliffe, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kuehn

On April 9, 1995, defendant attacked his paramour with a knife. The police took him to jail that same day. He has been locked up ever since.

Defendant stood trial on October 17, 1995. The jury deliberated to verdict the next day. It acquitted defendant of attempted murder but reached guilty verdicts on accompanying aggravated battery and armed violence charges. Defendant now serves four- and twelve-year concurrent prison terms imposed on the two guilty verdicts.

This appeal examines the 191 days from defendant's arrest to trial's commencement. We are asked to overturn defendant's convictions because he waited longer than 120 days in jail before trial began.

Here is a recapitulation of the relevant events that occurred during defendant's jail stay awaiting trial:

April 9, 1995 State places defendant in custody.

May 5, 1995 Defendant waives preliminary hearing.

May 19, 1995 St. Clair County grand jury indicts defendant for aggravated battery, attempted murder, and armed violence.

June 26, 1995 Defendant files motion to dismiss complaint.

June 27, 1995 Defendant files pro se motion to dismiss.

June 29, 1995 Defendant seeks and obtains order setting motions for July 12, 1995.

August 14, 1995 Defendant files pro se motion to dismiss for violation of speedy trial rights.

August 15, 1995 Defendant's lawyer files motion for speedy trial discharge and argues motion. Court allows defendant until August 25, 1995, to present additional authority in support of the motion.

September 15, 1995 The court denies the motion for discharge.

September 26, 1995 The court holds a status conference and sets trial for October 16, 1995.

October 16, 1995 The court denies the motion to dismiss complaint.

October 17, 1995 Trial begins.

A speedy public trial is constitutionally guaranteed to every American citizen. U.S. Const., amend. VI. Since the State possesses the power to level accusation, the power to deprive freedom based on accusation, and the power to control trial's timetable, a speedy trial assures that due process means something. It secures the worth of other basic freedoms and promises the orderly administration of Justice. It exists in recognition of a simple truth that "Justice delayed is Justice denied."

In Illinois, the prompt Disposition of criminal cases assumes new meaning by recent constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by the people of this State. The Illinois Constitution, as it has since its inception, guarantees a speedy trial to any citizen accused of a criminal act. Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §8. Now, it also guarantees any citizen that falls victim to a criminal act "timely Disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused." Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §8.1(a)(6) (amended November 3, 1992). In tandem, these assurances instruct that the speedy Disposition of criminal charges is in everyone's interest. In Illinois, a speedy trial is most assuredly the basic thread essential to our fabric of Justice.

Additionally, our lawmakers provide specific statutory guidelines that impose express time limits for the processing of criminal cases. Their design is to implement speedy trial rights. People v. Hamby, 27 Ill. 2d 493, 495-96, 190 N.E.2d 289, 291 (1963). Statutory time constraints also promote the innate fairness that prompt and orderly criminal Justice brings. Our legislature has long guaranteed that "every person in custody in this State for an alleged offense shall be tried *** within 120 days from the date he was taken into custody unless delay is occasioned by the defendant ***." 725 ILCS 5/103-5(a) (West 1994).

In this case, defendant's trial began 191 days from the date he was taken into custody. Therefore, unless delay was occasioned by the defendant, his trial violates the statute's guarantee to ...


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