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People v. Lilly

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

May 4, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
VENUS M. LILLY, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois, Circuit No. 15-CF-321 Honorable Sarah F. Jones, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice McDade dissented, with opinion.

          OPINION

          O'BRIEN, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Venus M. Lilly, appeals following her conviction for aggravated battery. She argues that the circuit court incorrectly admonished the venire under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 431(b) (eff. July 1, 2012), and that she is entitled to a new trial under the plain error doctrine because the evidence was closely balanced. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 The State charged defendant with a single count of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12- 3.05(d)(4)(i) (West 2014)). The indictment alleged that defendant made contact of an insulting and provoking nature with Jason Mitchem, knowing Mitchem to be a peace officer performing his official duties.

         ¶ 4 Jury selection commenced on September 28, 2015. During that process, the court posed the following question to the potential jurors:

"Do you understand and accept the following, that a person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent of the charges against him or her, and the presumption of innocence stays with the Defendant throughout the trial and is not overcome unless from all the evidence you believe the State has proved his or her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt?"

         Each potential juror, proceeding one-at-a-time, responded "Yes." The court then asked the following:

"Do you understand and accept the following, that the State has the burden of proving the Defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? The Defendant does not have to prove his innocence, does not have to present any evidence on his or her own behalf. Do you have any disagreement with those principles of law?"

         Each potential juror, again individually, responded "No."

         ¶ 5 Following the trial, the jury found defendant guilty of aggravated battery. The court sentenced defendant to a 30-month term of probation. This appeal follows.

         ¶ 6 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 7 Defendant argues that the circuit court incorrectly admonished potential jurors under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 431(b) (eff. July 1, 2012). More specifically, defendant asserts that it was error for the court to ask whether the potential jurors had any disagreement with certain principles immediately after asking if they understood and accepted those principles. Admitting that she failed to preserve the error, defendant requests that this court review for ...


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