Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. Nos. 14 CR 4615 14 CR
4616 The Honorable Joseph M. Claps, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Ellis and Justice McBride
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 Following a bench trial, which joined together two of his
separate, but related, criminal cases, defendant George
Gatlin was found guilty of aggravated battery in case number
14 CR 4615 and aggravated battery in case number 14 CR 4616.
The trial court subsequently sentenced him to concurrent
terms of four years' imprisonment. On appeal, defendant
contends that (1) his right to a jury trial was violated in
both cases because the trial court failed to adequately
ensure he made a knowing waiver of this right and (2) even if
the trial court adequately ensured that he knowingly waived
his right to a jury trial, that waiver only applied to case
number 14 CR 4616 and not to case number 14 CR 4615. For the
reasons that follow, we reverse and remand for a new trial in
case number 14 CR 4615, but affirm defendant's conviction
in case number 14 CR 4616.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 On March 17, 2014, the State charged defendant in case
number 14 CR 4615 with aggravated battery and unlawful
restraint for his alleged actions against Migdalia Castro.
That same day, in case number 14 CR 4616, the State charged
defendant with robbery, aggravated battery, and unlawful
restraint for his alleged actions against Chauncey Roberts.
All of the charges against defendant were in connection with
a series of incidents occurring on February 23, 2014.
4 Defendant's arraignment in both cases occurred on March
25, 2014. The court read the charges against him in case
number 14 CR 4615, and after it read the charges against him
in case number 14 CR 4616, the court informed him that the
charges were "Class 2, 3 and 4 offenses for which [he
had] the right to a trial, a right [to] a trial by a
jury." Defendant asked the court to repeat the charges
against him in case number 14 CR 4616. After doing so, the
court again told him that "[t]hese are charges for which
you have a right to a trial, a right to trial by jury. Do you
know what a trial by jury is?" Defendant replied,
"[y]es, sir." The court continued the matter.
5 At the next court date, the State elected to proceed on
case number 14 CR 4616. At subsequent court dates, the
parties discussed various matters, including outstanding
discovery. On August 14, 2014, the trial court set case
number 14 CR 4616 for a bench trial and continued case number
14 CR 4615 for a status date, both for September 30, 2014.
6 On September 30, 2014, the parties appeared in court, and
the following colloquy occurred:
"THE COURT: Are we ready? This case is set for trial,
[defendant]. Do you want a trial by jury or a trial by judge?
THE DEFENDANT: Trial by judge.
THE COURT: Okay. You know what a trial by jury is?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Your desire at this time is to waive your trial by
jury and have me hear this case?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes, sir.
THE COURT: Is this your signature on the document entitled