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The People of the State of Illinois v. Freddie Farmer

June 1, 2011



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Steele

JUSTICE STEELE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Quinn and Justice Neville concurred in the judgment and opinion.


Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, defendant Freddie Farmer was found guilty of falsely representing himself or herself to be the parent, legal guardian or other relation of a minor child to a public employee, which in this case was a police officer (720 ILCS 5/32-5.3 (West 2002)). Farmer was sentenced to 364 days in the Cook County Department of Corrections. Farmer now appeals, arguing: (1) the false personation statute violates the first and fourteenth amendments to the United States Constitution (U.S. Const., amends. I, XIV); and (2) he received ineffective assistance of counsel at trial. For the following reasons, we reject both claims and affirm the judgment of the trial court.


The record on appeal discloses the following facts. At trial, Victoria C. testified that her daughter, L.W., ran away in March 2002, when she was a 12-year-old. Victoria C. filed a missing person report with the Chicago police department. The story was featured on the local Channel 5 news and a police program. Victoria C. further testified she did not know Farmer, she had not given him permission to care for her daughter, and he was not related to her or her daughter.

Chicago police officer O'Neal testified that on June 1, 2002, at approximately 3 p.m., he and Officer Clarence Williams were on routine foot patrol, in uniform, in an open area shopping mall located on 63rd and Halsted Street. A store employee alerted the officers that he saw a girl who was featured on Crime Watch as a missing person in the mall, and he pointed her out to them. The girl, who was identified as L.W., was wearing a black spandex halter-top, black spandex pants, high heels, and makeup on her face.

Officer O'Neal testified that he asked Farmer, who was walking with L.W., who she was and Farmer responded, "Shanetta Thompson" or "Shanetta Tomson," his 16-year-old cousin. Officer Williams also testified Farmer said L.W. was his cousin, "Shauna Tompson," but denied Farmer said the girl was 16 years old. The officers asked about the girl's clothing, to which Farmer reportedly stated her mother did not mind. Both O'Neal and Williams testified Farmer stated she had lived with him and his mother for two years.

When Officer O'Neal told Farmer they should go to the police station for further questioning to "finish this up," Farmer responded "Fuck this," dropped his shopping bags, and ran. Officer Williams yelled at Farmer to stop running three times, then gave chase and arrested him after Farmer ran into the door of a police car. Following his arrest, Farmer and L.W. were taken to the police station, where Farmer continued to proclaim L.W. was his cousin. After learning of L.W.'s identity from the youth division, the police returned L.W. to her mother.

During the cross-examination of Officer O'Neal, defense counsel noted Farmer's statement that he had been living with L.W. for two years did not tell the police anything about their relationship. Officer O'Neal replied, "Other than he is a liar." Defense counsel also asked whether Farmer's statements to a Detective Doyle would shed light on the truth of the case. Officer O'Neal replied that he did not know, because Detective Doyle was investigating whether Farmer had sex with L.W., which was outside the scope of O'Neal's investigation. Defense counsel then asked whether the criminal complaint contained a rape charge. Officer O'Neal admitted there was no such charge as of that day.

During the cross-examination of Officer Williams, defense counsel asked him why people generally run from the police. Officer Williams responded that sometimes it is out of fear, but most of the time it is because they had done something wrong. Defense counsel then asked Officer Williams if he checked to see whether Farmer's shopping bags contained any stolen items. Officer Williams replied that he had not. When defense counsel attempted to ask Officer Williams what a teenage girl dressed like L.W. was likely to be doing for money, the trial judge sustained the State's objection to the question.

The State rested its case. The defense moved for a directed finding, which the trial court denied. The defense rested without presenting any evidence or witnesses.

During closing arguments, defense counsel repeatedly stated that Farmer was "not a saint." Defense counsel also suggested that Farmer may have been engaged in some other type of wrong doing at the time of his arrest. Following closing arguments and issuance of jury ...

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