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The People of the State of Illinois v. Hollis Dorrough

February 4, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
HOLLIS DORROUGH, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Honorable Angela M. Petrone, Judge Presiding. No. 06 CR 21866

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Epstein

JUDGE EPSTEIN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Joseph Gordon and Howse concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

In August 2009 defendant Hollis Dorrough, a former police detective, was convicted of perjury, unlawful sale of a firearm, and two counts of official misconduct, following a jury trial. He appeals his official misconduct convictions only, claiming his violations of police department regulations cannot sustain a conviction under subsection (a) of the official misconduct statute, section 33-3 of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/33-3(a) (West 2008)). We reverse his official misconduct convictions.

BACKGROUND

On August 10, 2006, defendant was arrested after admitting to violating police procedure by removing evidence, a handgun, from a case he was assigned to investigate. Defendant gave the handgun to the father of the suspect in the case and then lied when questioned about the missing weapon, claiming he left it on his desk prior to a meeting and discovered it missing when he returned. Defendant was indicted for, inter alia, two counts of official misconduct. His indictment charged, in relevant part:

"WHILE A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE, TO WIT: A DETECTIVE WITH THE HARVEY POLICE DEPARTMENT WHILE IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, HE INTENTIONALLY OR RECKLESSLY FAILED TO PERFORM A MANDATORY DUTY AS REQUIRED BY LAW, TO WIT: HE REMOVED CONCEALED AND WITHHELD PROPERTY AND OR EVIDENCE IN CONNECTION WITH THE INVESTIGATION AND PROSECUTION OF CASE NUMBER O6CR-4436, THAT BEING A .45 CALIBER REMINGTON SEMI-AUTOMATIC PISTOL, OTHER THAN AS REQUIRED BY THE REGULATIONS OF THE HARVEY POLICE DEPARTMENT IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT AT ALL TIMES HEREIN SET FORTH, SPECIFICALLY REGULATION 2.41.38, IN VIOLATION OF CHAPTER 720 ACT 5 SECTION 33-3 (a) OF THE ILLINOIS COMPILED STATUTES 1992 AS AMENDED ***."

Further, defendant:

"WHILE A PUBLIC EMPLOYEE, TO WIT: A DETECTIVE WITH THE HARVEY POLICE DEPARTMENT WHILE IN HIS OFFICIAL CAPACITY, HE INTENTIONALLY OR RECKLESSLY FAILED TO PERFORM A MANDATORY DUTY AS REQUIRED BY LAW, TO WIT: HE FAILED TO SAFEGUARD, CARE AND PRESERVE THE PROPERTY, TO WIT: A .45 CALIBER REMINGTON SEMI-AUTOMATIC PISTOL, IN CASE NUMBER 06CR-4436, OTHER THAN AS REQUIRED BY THE REGULATIONS OF THE HARVEY POLICE DEPARTMENT IN FULL FORCE AND EFFECT AT ALL TIMES HEREIN SET FORTH, SPECIFICALLY REGULATION 2.41.38, IN VIOLATION OF CHAPTER 720 ACT 5 SECTION 33-3 (a) OF THE ILLINOIS COMPILED STATUTES 1992 AS AMENDED ***."

Defendant moved to dismiss these counts arguing that violations of police department regulations do not trigger section 33-3(a), which criminalizes a public employee's failure to "perform any mandatory duty as required by law," an undefined term. (Emphasis added.) 720 ILCS 5/33-3(a) (West 2008). The trial court denied the motion, and a jury subsequently convicted defendant of both counts of official misconduct. Defendant's motion for a new trial was denied, and the trial court sentenced him to a three-year concurrent prison term on each count. Defendant appeals, claiming his official misconduct convictions must be overturned for want of evidence.

ANALYSIS

"In reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence, the question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt." (Emphasis in original.) People v. Jordan, 218 Ill. 2d 255, 269 (2006). "That standard applies in all criminal cases, regardless of the nature of the evidence." Id. at 270.

A public employee violates the official misconduct statute "when, in his official capacity ***, he *** [i]ntentionally or recklessly fails to perform any mandatory duty as required by law." 720 ILCS 5/33-3(a) (West 2008). A conviction under the statute is a Class 3 felony, and the employee forfeits his public employment. 720 ILCS 5/33-3(d) (West 2008). Defendant maintains he is not guilty of official misconduct because the regulations he violated are not "laws" within the meaning of the statute. This is ...


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