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People v. Phillips

November 19, 2001


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit Henry County, Illinois Nos. 99--CF--317, 99--TR--5333 Honorable Jay M. Hanson, Judge Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Homer

As amended December 5, 2001.


The defendant, Joanne Phillips, was convicted by a jury of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401(c)(2) (West 1998)), unlawful possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 1998)), unlawful possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(a) (West 1998)), and driving while license suspended (625 ILCS 5/6--303 (West 1998)). The court sentenced the defendant to four years' imprisonment.

On appeal, the defendant argues that (1) the admission into evidence of lab reports violated her constitutional right to be confronted with the witnesses against her, and (2) her mandatory prison sentence violated the principles of Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000). For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


In the early morning hours of November 5, 1999, a Henry County sheriff's deputy, Glenn Hampton, stopped the defendant's vehicle on Interstate 80 because the vehicle had veered off the roadway. Hampton asked the defendant for her license, registration, and proof of insurance. The defendant produced a driver's license and Hampton escorted her to his squad car, while the defendant's two passengers remained in her vehicle. The defendant indicated that she thought her license was suspended after which Hampton received radio confirmation that the defendant's license was indeed suspended. Hampton placed the defendant under arrest for driving with a suspended license and returned to the defendant's vehicle.

After asking the two passengers to step out, Hampton searched the interior of the vehicle. Underneath the driver's seat near the transmission hump, Hampton discovered wrapped in a paper towel 25 individual plastic bags of a white substance that appeared to be crack cocaine. In the front ashtray, he found a half-burnt marijuana cigarette.

Hampton walked back to his squad car and showed the defendant the substance he recovered from her vehicle. She asked what it was. After Hampton read the defendant her Miranda rights, he returned to her vehicle to speak with the passengers. Hampton then walked back to his squad car and told the defendant that the passengers denied knowledge of the cocaine. He told the defendant that they needed to discuss the matter and then noticed the defendant becoming teary-eyed. The defendant told Hampton that she needed money to pay bills and feed her children. She said that the two passengers in her car did not know anything about the cocaine and that she had picked it up in Chicago. Hampton transported the defendant to the county jail and again read the defendant her Miranda rights. The defendant signed a written statement which was consistent with the oral admissions she made to Hampton.

At trial, the State introduced the defendant's written statement and an Illinois State Police Lab Report signed by Denise Hanley, a forensic scientist, which revealed 5.4 grams of off-white chunks containing cocaine and 7.1 grams of untested, off-white chunks. A second report signed by Robert Streight, an employee of the Henry County Sheriff's office, revealing .1 gram of a plant material containing of cannabis, was also introduced.

In her defense, the defendant testified that Hampton badgered her into confessing. She indicated that Hampton informed her that if she cooperated the judge would be notified, she would be home with her kids the next day, and Hampton would not notify the Department of Children and Family Services. In addition, the defendant testified that only when Hampton threatened to charge her with drug trafficking and possession of a stolen vehicle and indicated that she would never see her children again, did she admit knowledge of the drugs. The defendant admitted signing the written statement, but testified at trial that it was untrue. She maintained that she did not know of any drugs in the car except the marijuana and she had told the passenger smoking the marijuana to stop. At trial, Hampton denied making any promises to the defendant to induce her confession.

The defendant was convicted of all counts. At sentencing, the trial judge indicated that he would have placed the defendant on probation, but that the legislature had stripped him of his discretion to do so. The defendant was sentenced to four years' imprisonment for the unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The court vacated the unlawful possession of a controlled substance count, gave the defendant credit for time served on the cannabis count, and entered judgment on the conviction for driving while license suspended. The defendant appeals from her convictions and sentences.


I. Lab ...

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