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The People of the State of Illinois v. Charles P. Burns

November 24, 2010

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
CHARLES P. BURNS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. JERALD DIGBY, HonorableJudge Presiding.

Unpublished opinion

THIRD DIVISION

PRESIDING JUSTICE QUINN delivered the opinion of the court: Following a jury trial, defendant Jerald Digby was found guilty of delivery of a controlled substance and sentenced to nine years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant contends that his conviction should be reversed and his cause remanded for a new trial because the trial court failed to strictly comply with Supreme Court Rule 431(b) (Official Reports Advanced Sheet No. 8 (April 11, 2007), R. 431(b), eff. May 1, 2007).

The record shows that defendant was charged with delivery of a controlled substance in connection with an incident on February 27, 2008, on the north side of Chicago. Defendant elected a jury trial, and as voir dire began, the trial court addressed the venire and explained that defendant is presumed to be innocent of the charge against him and that this presumption is not overcome unless the jury is convinced from all the evidence in the case and beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant is guilty. The court further explained that defendant is not required to prove his innocence or present any evidence at all.

The venire was subsequently sworn, and the court advised the prospective jurors of the questions which would be asked of them as a group and individually, and the procedure that would be followed. The court then stated:

"First, I will ask questions of you as a group. If *** [the answer to] any of these questions is yes, please raise your hand. ***

Defendant is presumed innocent until the jury during deliberations determines from all the evidence that the Defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Does anyone here have a problem with that presumption? Okay. No hands raised. Collective answer is no.

The State has the burden of proving the Defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in the criminal case. Does anyone disagree with requiring the State to meet that burden? I see no hand raised. Collective answer is no.

Defendant does not have to present any evidence at all in this case. Defendant may rely upon the presumption of innocence. Does anyone have any difficulty with extending the Defendant that presumption during trial? Again no hands are raise[d] collective answer is no.

The Defendant does not have to testify.

Is there anyone who would hold it against the Defendant if he chose not to testify? Okay.

Again there are no hands raised. Collective answer is no."

The court then had the clerk read the names of the first 26 potential jurors, and the first 14 were seated in jury box. The court, however, addressed the 26 members of the venire as follows:

"I have to ask this question again. This is about the basic principle of law. Defendant is presumed innocent until the jury during deliberations determines from all the evidence that the Defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Does anyone have a ...


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