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The People of the State of Illinois v. Thomas R. Mclennon

September 22, 2011

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
THOMAS R. MCLENNON,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of McHenry County. No. 09-CM-1433 Honorable Thomas A. Meyer,Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hudson

JUSTICE HUDSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Schostok and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Following a bench trial, defendant, Thomas R. McLennon, was convicted of one count of criminal damage to property under $300 (720 ILCS 5/21-1(1)(a) (West 2008)) and one count of disorderly conduct in violation of section 26-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(1) (West 2008)). Defendant was sentenced to 9 months' court supervision and 30 hours of community service and assessed various costs, fees, and fines. He now appeals, alleging three errors. First, he asserts that the affirmative defense of self-defense was applicable to both counts. Second, he argues that the State failed to prove him guilty of disorderly conduct beyond a reasonable doubt. Third, defendant seeks to reduce the Violent Crime Victims Assistance Fund (the Fund) (725 ILCS 240/10 (West 2008)) fines from $20 to $4 and to vacate one of the two 10% bond fees imposed by the trial court. For the reasons that follow, we affirm as modified.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The pertinent facts are as follows. On May 29, 2009, defendant fell asleep while waiting for his food at Porter's restaurant in Crystal Lake. Defendant testified that he had been awake for over 24 hours. He explained that, after working the night shift the previous night and running errands throughout that day, he was never able to sleep. While at the restaurant, defendant consumed alcohol, though defendant claimed it was only two drinks. At some point, a police officer was called to the scene, and after defendant awoke, the officer escorted him from the restaurant to an ambulance. Defendant was not placed under arrest, and he stated that he told the paramedics, "please do not put me in the ambulance." Despite his refusal, defendant was taken to Centegra Hospital in Woodstock. At the hospital, defendant became agitated and began screaming and swinging at hospital staff after being told what his plan of care was. During the course of treatment, defendant grabbed and broke a lead wire to an EKG machine. Once police arrived, defendant was arrested for criminal damage to property. The State later added a count of disorderly conduct.

¶ 4 The prosecution called the attending nurse, Jamie Lynn DeCraene, as its first witness. DeCraene testified that she first had contact with defendant at the hospital emergency room. Defendant appeared unsteady when standing or walking and his speech was "very slurred and erratic." Upon defendant's arrival, he was yelling at the paramedics and security guards. DeCraene told defendant that if he wanted to go home he had to provide her with a phone number of someone who could take him home, at which point defendant became combative. Defendant provided two wrong numbers and "laughed" when the calls were answered by random people. Defendant then stated, seemingly in sarcasm, that he "didn't want to go home" and that he "really liked it here."

As a result of his sudden mood shifts, DeCraene feared that alcohol may not have been the only substance in his system and she told defendant that she needed to draw his blood. At this point, defendant became very angry. Defendant clenched his fists and began screaming and swinging at the staff. As a result of his conduct, he was placed in restraints by security guards.

¶ 5 DeCraene testified that she would "usually put restraints on patients," but in this instance, she was too afraid of being hurt and "felt very scared." The hospital restraints allow 6 to 10 inches of mobility and are used to limit a patient's ability to hurt himself or others. Given that defendant had some mobility, his arm was forcibly held down by two security guards while DeCraene drew blood. About 15 minutes after completion of the blood draw and while defendant was still restrained, DeCraene hooked up defendant to an EKG machine, without his consent or consulting any physician. An EKG machine has three lead wires that monitor the patient's heart rhythm and rate. DeCraene gave two justifications for attaching defendant to the machine. First, she feared that defendant would go into withdrawal, which could lead to seizures or death. Withdrawal may occur when an individual suddenly stops the use of alcohol after a chronic or prolonged ingestion. Second, electronic monitoring was necessary due to the distance between the emergency room and the nurses' station. While she was trying to place the third lead wire on defendant, defendant grabbed the wire and snapped it in two. Still present, the security guards tried to grab the rest of the wire from his hand. At some point after defendant grabbed the wire, police were called. On redirect, DeCraene testified that the wires were owned by the hospital and that breaking the wire rendered it unusable. DeCraene also stated that emergency rooms are high stress environments, where people yell and become upset. Furthermore, patients sometimes change their minds about consenting to procedures.

¶ 6 During cross-examination, defense counsel highlighted that DeCraene never asked defendant whether he consented to medical treatment. DeCraene recognized that a patient has a right to refuse care but said she believed that such a refusal can be overridden by a nurse or doctor, based on factors like blood-alcohol content and behavior. Though not sure whether it was hospital policy, she stated that patients must be of "sound mind" and "alert and oriented" to make medical decisions for themselves. Further, she was unsure whether she ever consulted the attending physician regarding defendant's ability to refuse treatment. She did not remember defendant refusing care at any time nor did she inquire about defendant's motivations for his conduct. However, she claimed that, prior to drawing defendant's blood, she asked defendant whether he wanted to decline the blood draw, but she did not remember the specifics of what he said. Based on defendant's reaction to the blood draw, DeCraene stated that it appeared that defendant was not consenting to the procedure.

¶ 7 The State next called Officer Charles Vorderer of the Woodstock police department. Vorderer testified that, based on defendant's bloodshot, glossy eyes and the strong odor of alcohol emanating from his breath, defendant was "definitely under the influence of alcohol." During a conversation between defendant and Vorderer, defendant admitted to breaking the EKG wire and stated that he "had been treated horribly." Defendant was placed under arrest for criminal damage to property. At the conclusion of Vorderer's testimony, the State rested. Defendant made a motion for a directed finding on both counts, which the trial court denied.

¶ 8 Defendant then testified on his own behalf. His recollection of the events of May 29, 2009, differed in many respects from that of DeCraene. Defendant stated that he arrived at Porter's restaurant and ordered two plates of oysters. He consumed only two martinis and merely nodded off as a result of working the night shift the previous night. When he was escorted to the ambulance by the Crystal Lake police officer, he asked not to be placed in the ambulance, because he believed he was fine to walk home. He asked if he was being placed under arrest, and the officer said no. Defendant testified that he refused treatment from the paramedics. Defendant asserted that he was restrained when he was put in the ambulance, not at the hospital, and that it was in the ambulance, not the emergency room, where the EKG wires were attached and pulled off. He testified that the restraints were painful and, due to the pain, he pleaded with the security guard to reposition his arms in order to be more comfortable.

¶ 9 Defendant testified that DeCraene was not the attending nurse; rather, she was one of the paramedics in the ambulance. Further, defendant testified that, while he was in the ambulance, the paramedics attached only one wire and this was the wire he broke, while stating "no means no." When defendant pulled off the wire, DeCraene laughed and stated, "that's criminal damage to property." He testified that no electronic equipment was attached to him at the hospital and that he just "laid there" most of the time.

¶ 10 Ultimately, the trial court found the State's witnesses consistent and credible and defendant's testimony inconsistent and not credible. Defendant was found guilty on both counts. The trial judge did not expressly address whether defendant refused treatment or whether he consented to treatment. This appeal followed.

¶ 11 II. ANALYSIS

¶ 12 On appeal, defendant raises three issues. First, defendant argues that the State did not prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, because he was acting in self-defense when he purportedly committed the offenses at issue in this case. Second, defendant contends that the evidence was insufficient to prove him guilty of disorderly conduct. Third, he argues-and the State agrees-that the fines imposed for the Fund (725 ILCS 240/10 (West 2008)) must be reduced from $20 to $4 and that one of the two 10% bond fees imposed by the trial court must be vacated. We will address these issues in turn.

¶ 13 A. Self-Defense

¶ 14 Defendant first contends that he was acting in self-defense. This defense is codified in section 7-1 of the Criminal Code of 1961, in pertinent part, as follows: "A person is justified in the use of force against another when and to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other's imminent use of unlawful force." 720 ILCS 5/7-1(a) (West 2008). An individual may assert self-defense as an affirmative defense to a charge for conduct that might otherwise constitute a crime. See People v. Lee, 213 Ill. 2d 218, 225 (2004). It is an affirmative defense under which a defendant admits to the offense but denies responsibility. People v. Podhrasky, 197 Ill. App. 3d 349, 352 (1990). Section 7-1 does not limit itself to particular offenses, yet the defense is normally reserved for crimes against the person. People v. Brant, 394 Ill. App. 3d 663, 672 (2009). ...


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