Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 13 CR 7597
Honorable Maura Slattery Boyle Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE SIMON delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Harris and Mikva concurred in the judgment
1 In a fit of exasperation with his legal and financial
troubles, defendant Alexander Wood called the public
defender's office and left a crude and offensive rant
about how much he hated everyone involved in his legal case.
He stated that he dreamed every day about revenge, and he
singled out the judge presiding over his case, stating that
he hoped for the judge's death and destruction. Defendant
was charged and convicted of threatening a public official.
We hold that defendant did not make a true threat as a matter
of law and that the State failed to prove defendant knowingly
transmitted any communication to the judge.
3 In 2012, defendant was on probation, and the judge
presiding over his case was Judge Anthony Calabrese.
Defendant was represented by a public defender for at least
one court appearance while on probation, but he had a private
attorney for other appearances. At a court appearance in
October 2012, defendant moved the court to terminate his
probation or alternatively to transfer his probation to
Virginia. Defendant informed the court that he wanted to
marry a woman who was in the Navy and was stationed there.
Following a hearing, Judge Calabrese denied the motion.
4 Defendant was fired from multiple jobs and had difficulty
meeting his probationary financial requirements, and he
blamed the terms of his probation for his hardship. Even
though his probation was set to be terminated in April 2013,
defendant figured he would not be released from his probation
because he could not afford the fees. Frustrated one night in
March 2013, defendant looked up the public defender's
phone number and left a voicemail.
"There is not a day that goes by since I was sentenced
at that courthouse that I have not dreamed about revenge and
the utter hate I feel for the judge, and the utter hate I
feel for the prosecuting attorney, and the utter hate I feel
for the corporation that bound me in chains. There's not
a day that goes by that I don't pray for the death and
destruction upon the judge and upon every single person who
sentenced me, and in front of witnesses, in front of
everyone, and my utter hatred of you and of every other
attorney there. You make me sick to my motherfucking stomach.
And I hate you. And I hate the prosecuting attorney. And I
hate Judge Calabrese. And I hate you all so very, very much.
For the evil you did is un-freaking speakable and the lack of
remorse I feel is because of the injustice done to me. You
all can suck it because I hate you all with the bottomless,
deepest hate of my heart."
5 Five days later, Assistant Public Defender Barry Horewitch
went to Judge Calabrese's courtroom, and while the judge
was on the bench, told the judge that he needed to speak to
him about something important. Horewitch told Judge Calabrese
about the voicemail and then played the voicemail for the
judge in the presence of an assistant State's Attorney.
At that time, no one knew the identity of the person that
left the voicemail.
6 The judge alerted the sheriff in charge of security and his
supervising judge. A police officer was assigned to
investigate. Judge Calabrese testified at trial that he took
the voicemail as a threat. He changed his routine, would not
stay at the courthouse after hours, and was otherwise
vigilant. He was scared for his own safety and that of his
family. About three weeks after the call was made and two
weeks after the judge heard the message, defendant was
identified as the caller.
7 Defendant was arrested and charged with threatening a
public official. He admitted making the call, but claimed it
was not a threat. He claimed he was overwhelmed by his legal
troubles and wanted to tell the public defender exactly how
he felt. He claimed that he never intended the message for
the judge nor did he think the judge would ever hear it.
8 Prior to this incident, in September 2011, defendant was
fired from his position at a marketing agency on the
recommendation of one of his coworkers. That coworker
testified in this case that after defendant was fired,
defendant called him on the phone and threatened to kill him
and his family. Defendant pled guilty to telephone harassment
in that case and was sentenced to two years probation. That
term of probation is the one that was ongoing when defendant
made the call to the public defender's office that is the
subject of this case.
9 Following a jury trial, the jury found defendant guilty of
threatening a public official. The trial judge sentenced