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People v. Holloman

April 15, 1999


Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon Count No. 97CF1127 Honorable James A. Hendrian, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steigmann


In February 1998, a jury convicted defendant, Quentin Holloman, of possession of more than 30 grams but not more than 500 grams of cannabis with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 550/5(d) (West 1996)). The trial court later sentenced him to 10 years in prison and imposed a fine. Defendant appeals, claiming that (1) the court abused its discretion by admitting his prior felony conviction for impeachment purposes; (2) the court committed reversible error when it admitted expert testimony consisting of "drug dealer profiles"; (3) the court relied on erroneous information at sentencing; and (4) he received ineffective assistance of his trial counsel. We affirm defendant's conviction but remand for a new sentenc- ing hearing.


Around 4 p.m. on August 23, 1997, Decatur police officer Frank Hubbard and two other officers went to 721 E. Johns Street in Decatur, Illinois, to conduct a follow-up investigation of a shooting incident. Hubbard and Officer Platzbecker went to the front door of the residence while Officer Michael Gannon went to the rear. When Hubbard knocked on the front door, it opened approximately 12 inches, and a young man, Antonio Harris, came to the door. According to Hubbard's testimony, when he began the interview, Harris acted "nervous" and repeatedly looked over his shoulder toward the inside of the house. After a few moments, Hubbard heard a commotion inside the house, and Gannon reported over his radio that persons were attempting to exit the residence through a rear window. At that point, Harris attempted to close the front door on Hubbard and Platzbecker. Hubbard, believing a felony was in progress, pulled Harris onto the front porch and entered the resi- dence.

Inside, Hubbard found defendant lying on the floor in the back bed- room. Jimmy Brown was halfway out the window of the same room. Hubbard also found a large quantity of cannabis on and around a card table in the dining area. Following a standard procedure, Hubbard contacted Task Force X (the Decatur police drug task force) upon discovery of the drugs. He then took the occupants of the residence into custody and se- cured the residence. Task Force X obtained a warrant, searched the premises, and collected the evidence. Task Force officer Edward Root testified that the total amount of cannabis recovered at the house was 406.1 grams. Root also recovered a box of plastic bags and a pair of scissors. Sixty dollars in cash was found on the card table, and defen- dant was holding $347 in cash at the time of his arrest. Jimmy Brown was holding $350. Defendant's fingerprints were found on one of the plastic bags containing cannabis.

Officer Carl Carpenter testified that he interviewed defendant at the Macon County jail following his arrest. Defendant told Carpenter that he came to Decatur from Chicago with his cousin, Jimmy Brown, to sell drugs out of the Johns Street house. This arrangement was made at the request of a Chicago man known as "Tray," who transported defendant and Brown to Decatur and dropped them off at the Johns Street house. An individual unknown to defendant dropped off the drugs (about one-half pound of cannabis) and other supplies later that night. At trial, de- fendant denied having told Carpenter this version of events.

Defendant testified that he came to Decatur from Chicago with Brown for a vacation. He initially stayed at a motel, but checked out after an altercation with the management over a $10 raise in the rates. At some point prior to the events surrounding his arrest at the Johns Street house, defendant bought some "weed" at the house and subsequently was picked up by the police. After posting bond he returned to the house and asked if he could sleep there for a couple of hours because he had nowhere else to go. The young man at the house agreed. Defendant smoked a little, moved some things out of the way, and went to sleep on the floor in the back bedroom. According to defendant, he slept until he was awakened by Hubbard.

Gannon testified that he saw defendant by the window as Brown was attempting to climb out. By the time Gannon reached the window (where he handcuffed Brown), defendant had retreated back into the house and out of Gannon's sight.

When the State in rebuttal sought to impeach defen-dant's testimony with a 1996 felony conviction for possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, the trial court conducted a side-bar conference out of the jury's presence. (The record contains no transcript or bystander's report of the side-bar.) After the side-bar, the court ad- dressed the jury as follows:

"Ladies and gentlemen, the only evidence in, uh, rebuttal by the State is a certified copy of conviction, uh, of a case in Macon County. It is entitled The People of the State of Illinois vs. Quentin Holloman, [No.] 96-CF-681, and the record indicates that on August the 16th of 1996, Quentin Holloman was convicted of a felony in Macon County.

You can use that evidence in determining his credibility only. It is not to be used for any other purpose."

Later, also out of the jury's presence, the trial court gave defendant an opportunity to state on the record his objection to the conviction's admission. Defendant asserted that its prejudicial effect outweighed any probative value. The court stated in response that it had overruled the objection and had weighed the prejudicial effect against the probative value when the court made its determination and that, because the prior conviction was for the same offense as currently charged, the "mere fact" approach was used. The court later clarified its ruling for fear that it originally misstated the standard. The court stated as follows:

"[J]ust to make sure that so there is no problem in the record, uh, that the probative value of the impeachment evidence was--I made that determination that it was not outweighed by the undue prejudice that could be caused ...

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