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In re Eric B.

August 27, 2004

[5] IN RE ERIC B., A MINOR
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
ERIC B., A MINOR, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Honorable Marianne Jackson, Judge Presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice O'mara Frossard

[8]  Respondent Eric B., a minor, was adjudicated delinquent for possession of a controlled substance. He was committed to the Illinois Department of Corrections Juvenile Division for an indeterminate sentence. On appeal, respondent challenges the sufficiency of the evidence and contends that the State failed to establish a proper chain of custody over the controlled substance. Respondent also contends that the trial court improperly dismissed his pro se posttrial motion alleging ineffective assistance of counsel. For the following reasons, we affirm.

[9]  The following facts were adduced at respondent's adjudication hearing. On October 9, 2002, at approximately 9:50 p.m., Chicago police officers Joseph Ferenzi and Bojan were patrolling the area near Madison Street and Long Avenue in Chicago. Officer Ferenzi exited his vehicle and set up a narcotics surveillance in an area where he had made previous narcotics arrests. With an unobstructed view and from about 100 to 150 feet away, Officer Ferenzi observed, on three separate occasions, unknown individuals approach respondent and tender money to him. Respondent then walked along a fence over to a crumpled paper bag on the ground which was about 10 to 15 feet away. Respondent picked up the paper bag, removed a small item and then tendered the item to the individual who had just given him the money. Officer Ferenzi observed three or four additional people standing near respondent who were not involved in the suspected narcotics transactions.

[10]   Officer Ferenzi radioed Officer Bojan and other enforcement officers to detain respondent. Once respondent was detained, Officer Ferenzi directed Officer Bojan, via radio, over to the balled-up piece of paper on the ground. Officer Bojan recovered five tinfoil packets of suspected heroin. Officer Bojan testified that he did not observe any other pieces of paper in the immediate area.

[11]   According to Officer Bojan's testimony, the tinfoil packets were in his continuous care and custody until he inventoried them. The officers also recovered $65 during a subsequent custodial search of respondent.

[12]   Thereafter, the parties entered the following stipulation in full: "That Officer Bojan inventoried, recovered contraband under number 10040499, that the chain of custody was at all times properly kept and reserved on record and inventoried under number 1004099 [sic], that Nancy McDonaghs would be qualified to testify as an expert to render an expert opinion within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty in the field of forensic chemistry, that said expert did analyze and weigh the evidence inventoried as indicated above completely employing tests and procedures commonly recognized and accepted in the scientific community for ascertaining the presence of a controlled substance; that the evidence in this case tested positive for heroin, that the total estimated weight of 0.8 grams from the 5 items total weight tested 0.1 gram from 1 item."

[13]   Respondent testified at trial, which took place in March 2003, that he was 16 years old. Respondent denied possessing any drugs. According to his version of the events leading up to the arrest, respondent and his friends Derrick Hayes and Lekesha Crawford were walking to a fast-food restaurant when they were approached by two officers. Although the officers eventually allowed Crawford and Hayes to leave, they detained and searched respondent. Respondent explained that his mother had given him the $65 recovered during the search. Respondent testified that he did not know the reason for his arrest until he reached the police station.

[14]   Following the close of evidence, the trial court adjudicated respondent delinquent for possession of a controlled substance. The trial court, in announcing its decision, specifically stated that respondent's testimony "makes no sense" and that it found the testimony of Officers Ferenzi and Bojan to be credible. The trial court then sentenced respondent to the juvenile division of the Department of Corrections.

[15]   Immediately after the court imposed the sentence, the following colloquy took place between the court, respondent, and defense counsel:

[16]   "MINOR RESPONDENT: My brother could have told you.

[17]   THE COURT: There was a trial in this case.

[18]   MINOR RESPONDENT: I didn't get a chance to call nobody [sic].

[19]   THE COURT: You're trying to tell me your lawyer didn't tell you to give her the names of your witnesses?

[20]   MINOR RESPONDENT: No, Ma'am."

[21]   The court subsequently informed respondent of his appeal rights and instructed him to include all of the "mistakes" in his appeal. The court then proceeded to engage in the following discussion with respondent:

[22]   "MINOR RESPONDENT: They put some dope on my case. I got a charge on there I know it's my brother's work. I know for a ...


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