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People v. Evans

June 04, 2004

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
ROBERT L. EVANS, JR., DEFENDANT, AND JOHN L. BRITTON, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County. No. 02MR64. The Honorable Albert G. Webber, Judge Presiding.

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

PUBLISHED

Defendant, John L. Britton, appeals his October 2002 conviction for indirect criminal contempt of court based on his failure to appear to testify in Memphis, Tennessee, pursuant to the trial court's order under the Uniform Act to Secure the Attendance of Witnesses from Within or Without a State in Criminal Proceedings (Act) (725 ILCS 220/1 through 6 (West 2002)). We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

The Act permits a state other than this state, "which by its laws has made provision for commanding persons within that state to attend and testify in this state," to obtain a summons issued by a court of this state directing a witness here to appear and testify in a criminal prosecution or grand jury investigation in that state. 725 ILCS 220/2 (West 2002). The other state must certify under seal of its court that such an action is pending and that the person in this state is a material witness. Upon presentation of such certificate to a court in this state in the county where the witness is, our court will direct the witness to appear at a hearing. At that hearing, our court will determine whether the witness is material and necessary, whether the witness will suffer undue hardship from being compelled to testify in the other state, and whether the laws of the state where the action is pending, or any other state the witness would be required to travel through, will provide the witness protection from arrest and service of criminal or civil process.

If the criteria are met, our court "shall issue a summons, with a copy of the certificate attached, directing the witness to attend and testify in the court where the prosecution is pending, or where a grand jury investigation has commenced or is about to commence[,] at a time and place specified in the summons." 725 ILCS 220/2 (West 2002).

The Act further provides as follows:

"If the witness, who is summoned as above provided, after being paid or tendered by some properly authorized person the sum of 10 cents a mile for each mile by the ordinary travel route to and from the court where the prosecution is pending and 5 dollars for each day that he is required to travel and attend as a witness, fails without good cause to attend and testify as directed in the sum-mons, he shall be punished in the manner provided for the punishment of any witness who disobeys a summons issued from a court in this state." 725 ILCS 220/2 (West 2002).

In February 2002, the Criminal Court of Tennessee, Thirtieth Judicial District, certified that defendant, as well as two other witnesses not party to this appeal, was a necessary and material witness for the State of Tennessee and that his presence in that court for the purpose of giving testimony would be required on April 1, 2002, through April 3, 2002. In March 2002, the circuit court issued a criminal subpoena for defendant, ordering him to appear at a hearing. The subpoena contained the following notice: "Your failure to appear may result in your arrest and punishment for contempt of court." The circuit court held a hearing on the State of Tennessee's certificate. Defendant attended the hearing and informed the court he objected to being required to attend the trial in Tennessee. Jerry Kitchin, assistant District Attorney for Shelby County, Tennessee, testified at the hearing. Kitchin testified as to why defendant was a material and necessary witness and that the State of Tennessee would make his travel arrangements, arrange for his stay, and pay a per diem for his meals. Kitchin also testified it was his understanding that any state defendant may have to pass through was a party to the Act and defendant would be immune from service of process.

Defendant offered no testimony of undue hardship resulting from being required to testify in Tennessee. Defendant's only testimony was that he had no information regarding the case in which he would be called to testify. At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court found defendant was a material and necessary witness, that he would be immune from service of process for prior acts, and that he would suffer no undue hardship. The court signed the order and issued a summons directing defendant to appear and testify in the case. On the record, Kitchin confirmed to the trial court he was prepared to discuss travel arrangements, at which time, the following exchange took place:

"DEFENDANT: Your Honor, I don't need no [sic] travel arrangements (inaudible) lawyers. I'll be with them. You guys wasting [sic] your time. I don't need any travel arrangements.

THE COURT: You can talk to Mr. Kitchin, and if you have other arrangements to get there--

DEFENDANT: I already got [sic] a ride down there.

THE COURT: That would be fine. You can let them know what arrangements you have so that they'll know when you'll be arriving and so they can insure that you'll be ...


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