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The People of the State of Illinois v. Jeffery E. Brown

September 12, 2012


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 10-CF-2658 Honorable Daniel B. Shanes, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hudson

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

Presiding Justice Jorgensen and Justice Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.



¶ 2 Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Lake County, defendant, Jeffery E. Brown, was convicted of unlawful possession of less than 15 grams of cocaine in violation of section 402(c) of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (Act) (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 2010)). Defendant now appeals, arguing that his conviction of possession of cocaine should be overturned, that the $750 public defender reimbursement fee he was ordered to pay should be vacated, and that he should receive an additional $15 credit against his $500 statutory drug assessment. For the reasons that follow, we affirm defendant's conviction; vacate the $750 public defender reimbursement fee and remand for a hearing to determine whether the imposition of this fee is appropriate; and order an additional $15 to be credited against defendant's $500 statutory drug assessment.


¶ 4 On August 4, 2010, defendant was arrested by Waukegan police for possession of cocaine. Defendant was released on bond on August 12, 2010, but was taken back into custody on September 2, 2010, after failing a drug test. Defendant was then released on September 9, 2010. The case proceeded to a jury trial on April 4, 2011, where the following testimony was given.

¶ 5 Officer Keith Lamanna testified first for the State. Lamanna, a member of the Waukegan police department, testified that he had been on patrol in his squad car at approximately 5 p.m. on August 4, 2010, when he was dispatched to the intersection of May Street and Genesee Street in Waukegan. Lamanna subsequently related that he was dispatched to this location to investigate an unrelated complaint. In the course of this investigation, Lamanna made contact with defendant. Lamanna testified that he saw defendant walking his dog on the street. He asked defendant to tie his dog to a fence and to come closer to the squad car so that Lamanna could speak with him. Defendant tied his dog to the fence, but then used a cellular telephone to either make a call or send a text message to someone else. Lamanna described defendant as "very hesitant" to approach the squad car, and Lamanna had to ask defendant two or three times to come closer to the car.

¶ 6 Lamanna testified that he searched defendant. He explained that he was not looking for drugs at the time; rather, the search was conducted in furtherance of his investigation of the unrelated complaint. Lamanna described defendant's pants as "extremely baggy." He found various items in the pockets, including five small plastic bags containing a "white rock-like" substance and a single plastic bag containing a "green plant material." In the course of the search, Lamanna looked through defendant's wallet. He then returned the wallet to defendant. Lamanna stated that he could not remember whether there was identification in the wallet. He said that, if the wallet had contained any identification documents with a name other than defendant's, he probably would have noted that information in his report, as it would indicate "a suspicious kind of situation."

¶ 7 After the State presented the testimony of a forensic chemist regarding the substances Lamanna recovered from defendant, it rested. The defense called its first witness, Gloria Lopez. Lopez testified that she worked for the Lake County public defender's office as a legal secretary, interpreter, and notary. On October 13, 2010, a man identifying himself as Jason Brown came to the office and asked to make a statement. Lopez provided the man with a form and escorted him to a room, where she left him alone to write his statement. The man signed the form in her presence, and, after he provided sufficient proof of his identification, she notarized his statement. The statement consisted of the following:

"I Jason Brown left the house at 12:00 or 1:00 and Jeffery Brown put on my jeans that had my wallet in it and some money with a small rock in it. Ever thing [sic] that was in it was not his it was my things [sic]. I didn't know that he was putting on my jeans[.] I came home to get what I left in my jeans but Jeffery Brown had already put on my jeans and left." Lopez stated that she could not remember the man's height or weight or how he was dressed. She did not think she would be able to identify him if she saw him again. She also said that she was unsure if the handwritten content of the statement had been modified after she notarized it.

¶ 8 Defendant testified next on his own behalf. He stated that, on the day of the incident, he was living with his brother Jason in an apartment in Waukegan. His size and build were similar to Jason's, and he often wore Jason's clothes. In fact, the brothers stored their clothes in the same closet. On August 4, 2010, defendant stated, he left his apartment to walk his dog. He put on his brother's jeans, which were "big baggy jeans." He claimed that he did not check the pockets before putting them on and was unaware of any drugs in the pockets. He said that he saw his brother on a daily basis but never saw him possess, use, or sell any drugs.

ΒΆ 9 Defendant related that Lamanna stopped him and asked if he could conduct a search. Defendant consented, and Lamanna found a wallet and some drugs in his pockets. Lamanna looked inside the wallet and found Jason's identification card and two credit cards bearing Jason's name. ...

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