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People v. Grant

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

September 1, 2016

JAMES E. GRANT, Respondent-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Johnson County. No. 99-CF-106 Honorable James R. Williamson, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellant Cord Z. Wittig, Kruger, Henry & Hunter

          Attorneys for Appellee Hon. Tambra K. Cain, State's Attorney, Johnson County Courthouse, Patrick Delfino, Director, David J. Robinson, Deputy Director, Perry Miller, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate

          JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Welch and Cates concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 In 2002, the respondent, James E. Grant, was committed pursuant to the Sexually Dangerous Persons Act (SDP Act) (725 ILCS 205/0.01 et seq. (West 2000)). In July 2012, he filed the application for discharge that is at issue in this appeal. A jury found that the respondent remained a sexually dangerous person, and the trial court entered an order to that effect. The respondent appealed, raising four issues. We reversed the court's order on the basis of one of those issues-we found that the court erred and violated the respondent's right to due process by appointing an independent examiner of the State's choosing. People v. Grant, 2015 IL App (5th) 130416. Because we remanded the matter to the trial court for a new hearing, we did not find it necessary to address the respondent's remaining arguments. The State appealed, and the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed our decision. People v. Grant, 2016 IL 119162. In addition, however, the supreme court directed this court to consider any additional issues that we find are likely to occur on remand.

         ¶ 2 The respondent argues that (1) the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion in limine seeking to exclude testimony of four witnesses concerning the details of the respondent's underlying convictions and an uncharged incident that was considered by the expert witnesses in reaching their opinions, (2) the court committed plain error in failing to provide jurors with a definition of clear and convincing evidence sua sponte, and (3) the court erred in refusing several of his proposed jury instructions which would have given the jury definitions of various terms that are not defined under the SDP Act. We find that the court abused its discretion in denying the motion in limine in its entirety. However, we find no merit to either of his contentions related to jury instructions. We remand this matter to the trial court for further proceedings consistent with both this decision and our earlier decision in this matter.

         ¶ 3 Factual Background

         ¶ 4 The 1999 criminal charges underlying the respondent's commitment stem from four separate incidents. He was charged with residential burglary, theft, and criminal damage to property in three of those incidents, each of which involved the theft of women's underwear. In the fourth incident, the respondent was charged with attempted aggravated criminal sexual assault, home invasion, residential burglary, and aggravated battery. These charges involved the attempted sexual assault of an adult neighbor, Heather Pearman. In the Pearman case, the respondent pled guilty to the charge of home invasion and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. In two of the other cases, the respondent pled guilty to residential burglary and was sentenced to nine years on each charge. In the remaining burglary case, the prosecution opted to file a petition for commitment under the SDP Act in lieu of prosecution. As noted, the respondent was committed pursuant to the SDP Act in 2002.

         ¶ 5 In 2012, the respondent filed the recovery application at issue in this appeal, his third such application. A team of three evaluators found that the respondent was at low risk for reoffending. They recommended that he be conditionally released. The State filed a motion asking the court to appoint Dr. Angeline Stanislaus as an independent examiner to conduct an additional evaluation of the respondent. The court granted the State's motion and appointed Dr. Stanislaus. Dr. Stanislaus diagnosed the respondent with transvestite fetishism, paraphilia, and "rule out" pedophilia, which means she did not have enough information to diagnose the respondent with pedophilia but could not rule it out. She opined that the respondent had a propensity to commit sex offenses as a result of his fetishism. She acknowledged, however, that this conclusion had to do with the way he fulfilled his urges to dress in women's underwear, not simply the fact that he had those urges. Dr. Stanislaus and the three evaluators all testified at a hearing on the respondent's recovery application. As noted earlier, the respondent appealed an order finding that he remained sexually dangerous, this court reversed on the basis of the court's appointment of Dr. Stanislaus, and the Supreme Court of Illinois affirmed our decision. We now consider the respondent's remaining arguments. We will discuss additional background facts as necessary.

         ¶ 6 The SDP Act

         ¶ 7 The SDP Act allows the State to file a petition for the commitment of a criminal defendant instead of prosecution if prosecutors believe the defendant is a sexually dangerous person as defined in the SDP Act. People v. Burns, 209 Ill.2d 551, 553 (2004). A sexually dangerous person is defined as an individual who (1) has suffered for at least one year from a mental disorder that includes the propensity to commit sex offenses and (2) has demonstrated a propensity to commit sexual assault or to commit molestation against children. 725 ILCS 205/1.01 (West 2012). At proceedings on a petition to commit a respondent, the State must prove he is sexually dangerous beyond a reasonable doubt. 725 ILCS 205/3.01 (West 2012).

         ¶ 8 At any time after a respondent is committed under the SDP Act, he may file a recovery application, alleging that he is no longer sexually dangerous and requesting a discharge or conditional release. People v. Trainor, 196 Ill.2d 318, 331 (2001). At proceedings on a recovery application, the State must prove that the respondent remains sexually dangerous and subject to continued commitment by clear and convincing evidence. 725 ILCS 205/9(b) (West 2012). At issue in a recovery proceeding is the respondent's current psychological condition and whether he "is presently a sexually dangerous person within the meaning of the Act." People v. Studdard, 82 Ill.App.3d 736, 740 (1980). The respondent's primary argument in this appeal is that the ...

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