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People v. Drum

November 22, 2000

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT, V. CHARLES C. DRUM, APPELLEE.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Freeman

Docket No. 88503-Agenda 10-September 2000.

Defendant, Charles Drum, was charged with first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a) (West 1996)). The circuit court of Coles County denied the State's pretrial motion to admit certain hearsay statements at defendant's trial. See 725 ILCS 5/115-10.2 (West 1998). The State brought an interlocutory appeal to the appellate court pursuant to our Rule 604(a)(1) (145 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)). The appellate court dismissed the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. 307 Ill. App. 3d 743. We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal. 177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a). We now reverse and remand for further proceedings.

BACKGROUND

The State charged defendant; his brother, Thomas Drum; and their friend, Marcus Douglas with the first degree murder of the victim, Shane Ellison. Thomas and Marcus were tried separately. At their trials, Thomas and Marcus each testified in his own defense; each acknowledged that he was involved in the victim's murder; but each characterized his involvement as minimal and defendant's involvement as primary. Marcus testified at Thomas' trial, but Thomas refused to testify at Marcus' trial. Thomas and Marcus were each convicted of first degree murder.

Other than defendant, Thomas and Marcus were the only witnesses to the murder. Thomas and Marcus, respectively, through each of their counsel, indicated that they did not intend to testify at defendant's trial.

In pretrial motions, the State sought to admit the prior testimony of Thomas and Marcus at defendant's trial, pursuant to the statutory residual hearsay exception. 725 ILCS 5/115-10.2 (West 1998). At the close of a hearing, the trial court denied the State's motions.

Pursuant to our Rule 604(a)(1) (145 Ill. 2d R. 604(a)(1)), the State brought an interlocutory appeal from the denial of these motions to the appellate court, which held as follows:

"The State contends that we have jurisdiction pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(a)(1) [citation]. We disagree and instead hold that when (1) the State files a motion in limine that seeks the admission of evidence and (2) the trial court enters a discretionary ruling-that is, a ruling that we would normally review deferentially-denying that motion, then (3) Rule 604(a)(1) does not confer jurisdiction on this court to hear an interlocutory appeal of that ruling." 307 Ill. App. 3d at 745.

Concluding that it lacked jurisdiction, the appellate court dismissed this interlocutory appeal. The State appeals to this court.

DISCUSSION

As in People v. Phipps, 83 Ill. 2d 87, 90 (1980): "The issue on this appeal is very narrow. It is simply whether the State may take an interlocutory appeal from the trial court's pretrial order." At the outset, we note the following:

"Under the 1970 Illinois Constitution, the final authority to prescribe the scope of interlocutory appeals by the State in a criminal case rests exclusively with this court [citation], and whether a particular order may be appealed depends solely upon our construction of our Rule 604(a)(1)." People v. Young, 82 Ill. 2d 234, 239 (1980).

The interpretation of a supreme court rule, like a statute, is a question of law that we review de novo. In re Estate of ...


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