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People v. Miller

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

June 27, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
MELVIN MILLER, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 13 CR 1106 The Honorable Diane G. Cannon, Judge, presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Pierce and Mason concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HYMAN, PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 Defendant Melvin Miller was convicted by a jury of delivery of a controlled substance and sentenced to 12 years' incarceration. He argues on appeal that (i) the trial court failed to "conduct a meaningful inquiry" after a juror equivocated while answering a question posed during the jury polling after the guilty verdict, (ii) the prosecution failed to tender Miller's statement to police officers giving his name and date of birth, and (iii) the trial court erroneously refused his tendered jury instruction regarding prior inconsistent statements. Miller requests reversal of his conviction based on each of these alleged errors.

         ¶ 2 We affirm. First, while polling the jury, the trial court's response to a juror's equivocation did not prejudice Miller or affect the fairness of the trial or the integrity of the judicial process. Second, Miller forfeited the issue of whether the State violated the rules of discovery; moreover, Miller was not prejudiced by any nondisclosure of his "statement." Finally, Miller failed to show the trial judge abused her discretion in refusing a jury instruction on impeachment by prior inconsistent statements.

         ¶ 3 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 Chicago police officer Lazaro Altamirano, Detective Donald Clark and Sergeant Andrew Dakuras, team supervisor, were assigned to an eight-man undercover narcotics team conducting drug investigations in Chicago and suburbs. Altamirano was the "designated undercover officer" who used marked bills (prerecorded Chicago Police Department "1505" funds) to buy heroin from a suspected drug dealer. On November 14, 2012, the team conducted an undercover heroin purchase from Miller in the area of Iowa Street and Harding Avenue in Chicago. Dakuras recorded the serial numbers of a $10 bill and two $5 bills that Altamirano used in the "buy" by writing them on his palm.

         ¶ 5 Altamirano approached Miller and asked him for two "blows" (street slang for heroin). Miller went into a nearby house and returned with a small package. Altamirano paid him for the package with $20 in marked "1505" bills. Clark, the surveillance officer, watched the transaction from a distance 50 to 75 feet. After the buy, Clark radioed Dakuras that Miller was on the corner of Iowa Street and Lamon Avenue. Dakuras pulled up in an unmarked police car and saw Miller. Dakuras called Miller over. Dakuras got out of the car and made "small talk" with Miller about what he was doing, where he was going, and how long he had been on the corner. Dakuras asked Miller if he had any money, and Miller pulled out about $100 in various bills. Dakuras checked the serial numbers on all the bills and confirmed that three bills matched the "1505" funds Altamirano used in the buy. As Dakuras and Miller stood on the corner, Altamirano drove past and confirmed by radio that Miller was the individual who sold him the heroin.

         ¶ 6 Dakuras asked Miller his name and birthday, which Miller gave. At this point, defense counsel objected but was overruled, and the trial court denied counsel's request for a sidebar. Dakuras did not recall if Miller had identification or simply gave his name. Dakuras signed off on Clark's "Surveillance Supplementary Report" of the incident that stated Miller "was identified, " but neither Clark nor Dakuras wrote in any report that Miller identified himself.

         ¶ 7 Miller was not arrested the same day as the "buy." Doing so would have exposed Altamirano as an undercover police officer. Instead, Dakuras returned to the police station and obtained Miller's photograph from police computer records by his name and birthday. According to Dakuras, "[w]hen you have been previously arrested, you are given an identification record number." The following exchange then ensued:

"MR. GASSMAN [defense counsel]: I will object again. This is coming out now for the first time.
THE COURT: That will be stricken. Counsel, you have had the photographs.
MR. GASSMAN: Not photographs, statements allegedly made by the suspect. It is coming out now for the first time.
THE COURT: Sustained. That will be stricken.

         ¶ 8 Dakuras created a photo array of six photos including Miller's. All the photos were of black males fitting Miller's general description. On the same day, Altamirano viewed the photo array and selected Miller as the person who sold him the heroin. In December 2012, Miller was arrested on a warrant.

         ¶ 9 The parties stipulated that the package Miller sold to Altamirano contained 0.4 grams of heroin. The State rested, and defense counsel moved for a mistrial based on the State's failure to disclose Miller's incriminating statement, specifically the "very damning identifying information"-his name and birth date. The trial court found that the reports tendered to the defense contained the identifying information as Dakuras testified.

         ¶ 10 The defense rested without ...


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