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People v. Chai

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

August 19, 2014

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
HSIU YAN CHAI, Defendant-Appellant

Page 888

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 11-CM-5414. Honorable Bruce R. Kelsey, Judge, Presiding.

SYLLABUS

On appeal from defendant's convictions for criminal trespass to real property and resisting a peace officer based on an incident in which defendant was escorted out of a state motor vehicle license facility by police after becoming angry, his trespass conviction was reversed and his conviction for resisting a peace officer was upheld, since the State failed to prove that defendant received notice from " an owner or occupant" of the facility that his entry into the facility was forbidden, but defendant admitted that he committed the physical acts of placing his hands on a door to prevent being pushed out and being slow to offer his hands for cuffing, even though he argued that he did not " intend" to resist the officers by doing so.

JUSTICE JORGENSEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Burke and Justice McLaren concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 889

JORGENSEN, J.

[¶1] Following a November 2011 incident at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in Lombard, the State charged defendant, Hsiu Yan Chai, with: (1) criminal trespass to real property (in that the DMV manager had previously provided Chai with notice that he was not to return to the DMV) (720 ILCS 5/21-3 (West 2010)); (2) resisting a peace officer (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) (West 2010)); (3) obstructing a peace officer (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a) (West 2010)); and (4) disturbing the peace (720 ILCS 5/26-1 (West 2010)). After a juror's repudiation of a guilty verdict as to criminal trespass, and the jury's sending three notes to the court that it was deadlocked, the jury ultimately convicted Chai of criminal trespass to real property and resisting a peace officer. It acquitted Chai of obstructing a peace officer and disturbing the peace. The court sentenced Chai to 20 days in jail for each conviction, to be served concurrently, and one year of conditional discharge.

[¶2] Chai appeals, arguing, as to criminal trespass, that: (1) the evidence was insufficient to convict; (2) trial counsel was ineffective for allowing the court to give an improper deadlock instruction; and (3) the court committed plain error when it refused to answer the jury's question on a point of law. We agree that the evidence was insufficient, because the State presented no evidence that an owner or occupant of the DMV provided Chai with notice that he was never to return to the property. Further, there was no evidence from which a rational juror could infer that an owner or occupant asked, explicitly or implicitly, the police to order Chai never to return. We decline to extend case law to allow a police officer, rather than an owner or occupant, to provide notice to the defendant under the circumstances of this case. Therefore, we reverse Chai's conviction of criminal trespass and do not reach the latter two arguments. As to resisting a peace officer, Chai argues that the trial court erred in refusing to answer certain jury questions. We reject that argument and affirm the conviction of resisting a peace officer. We thus reverse in part and affirm in part.

[¶3] I. BACKGROUND

[¶4] Chai, age 62 at the time of the present incident, has been a United States citizen since 1994. In the 18 years before

Page 890

the incident, he was convicted of one misdemeanor charge of criminal trespass. He has a degree from " MIT" (presumably the Massachusetts Institute of Technology). However, he works in a restaurant. Chai's proficiency in English was at issue in this case, and Chai used a Mandarin-speaking interpreter throughout the proceedings. The evidence adduced at trial concerned two incidents at the DMV. The first took place in September 2011, and the second took place in November 2011 and culminated in the four charges against Chai.

[¶5] A. The September Incident

[¶6] On September 1, 2011, Chai went to the DMV to help a friend obtain a driver's license. Following a disagreement that is not detailed in the record, Chai began speaking in an angry manner to DMV employees. As a result, DMV security called the police. Officers Thomas McElroy and Ericson (who did not testify and whose first name is unclear from the record) escorted Chai outside and, according to McElroy, told him not to return.

[¶7] Four witnesses testified concerning the September incident. These witnesses were DMV security guard Jeanette Ferguson, DMV manager Joseph Calafiore, McElroy, and Chai.

[¶8] Ferguson made the decision to call the police. She testified:

" Q. And when the police arrived, did you say anything to the defendant once the police arrived?
A. No. I let the-- I explained to the police officer what was going on and let them just, basically, kind of take control of it then. I just explained that--the situation as to what had previously occurred.
Q. Okay.
A. The reason why I had to call for him--for them to come to assist me.
Q. And was--to the best of your knowledge, was the defendant ever told not to come back to that facility?
A. Oh, yes.
DEFENSE COUNSEL: Objection, foundation.
THE COURT: She may answer.
Q. So he was told not to come back; is that correct?
A. Yes.
Q. And now, Ms. Ferguson, bring your attention back to *** November 23 ***."

(Emphasis added.)

[¶9] Calafiore observed the police remove Chai from the facility, and he spoke with the police after Chai left the premises. He testified:

" Q. After everything happened in the facility on September 1, what was the result of it?
A. He was escorted outside by the Lombard Police.
Q. And were there any instructions given to the defendant?
A. I was inside. I was told afterwards that he was--
DEFENSE COUNSEL: Objection.
THE COURT: Sustained as to what you were told. If you can repeat what you personally did or said at that time.
A. I inquired with the Lombard police as to what happened, and they told me that--
DEFENSE COUNSEL: Objection.
THE COURT: Just a second. You can indicate what you did but not what the officers ...

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