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People v. Taylor

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

March 1, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
THOMAS TAYLOR, Defendant-Appellant.

          Rule 23 order filed January 16, 2018

          Motion to publish allowed March 1, 2018

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County, No. 12-CF-1853; the Hon. T. Clint Hull, Judge, presiding.

          Michael J. Pelletier, Thomas A. Lilien, and Vicki P. Kouros, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Elgin, for appellant.

          Joseph H. McMahon, State's Attorney, of St. Charles (Patrick Delfino, Lawrence M. Bauer, and Diane L. Campbell, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          Panel HUDSON PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Jorgensen specially concurred, with opinion.

          OPINION

          HUDSON PRESIDING JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Thomas Taylor, was charged with two counts of unlawful use of a weapon (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(7)(ii) (West 2010)) and one count of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (id. § 24-1.6(a)(1)) for knowingly possessing and selling a short-barreled shotgun. The matter proceeded to a stipulated bench trial, following which the court found defendant guilty and sentenced him to 30 months' probation. Defendant appeals, contending that the stipulated bench trial was equivalent to a guilty plea, but that he did not receive the admonishments required by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402(a) (eff. July 1, 2012). We affirm.

         ¶ 2 Defendant was indicted after he sold a sawed-off shotgun to a confidential informant. Defendant moved to dismiss counts I and II, alleging that section 24-1(a)(7)(ii) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/24-1(a)(7)(ii) (West 2010)) was unconstitutional. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant filed a separate motion to dismiss count III, arguing that section 24-1.6 had been declared unconstitutional in People v. Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116. The court never ruled on the motion, but the State nol-prossed that count.

         ¶ 3 Defendant waived his right to a jury trial, and the matter was set for a bench trial. On the trial date, defense counsel advised the court that the trial would take place via stipulation. The court then questioned defense counsel as follows:

"THE COURT: ***
And based upon the motions, this is not a stipulation where you're stipulating and admitting or stipulating that the evidence would be sufficient to find guilt, you're just stipulating to the facts and asking the Court to make that decision, correct?
MR. SPARKS [DEFENSE COUNSEL]: I believe so, yes. Yes."

         ¶ 4 The court continued the cause to July 14, 2015. On that date, the parties presented the court with a seven-page stipulation. The prosecutor also introduced as exhibits the shotgun, a shotgun shell, two audio recordings, and a video recording of the transaction. The court questioned defendant about the stipulation. Defendant said that he had read it, that he understood that it meant that none of the witnesses would testify or be cross-examined, and that he agreed with this strategy. The court asked defendant if he ...


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