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People v. Lucas

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

July 9, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
NANCY LUCAS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 14 MC5 0024401 Honorable Matthew J. Carmody, Judge, presiding.

          JUSTICE HYMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Pucinski concurred in the judgment and opinion. Presiding Justice Lavin dissented, with opinion.

          OPINION

          HYMAN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant Nancy Lucas contends that the trial court violated her right to due process when, during the bench trial, it viewed a video of her traffic stop outside her presence. We initially affirmed defendant's conviction but, following full briefing on defendant's petition for rehearing, we allowed the petition for rehearing and withdrew our opinion.

         ¶ 2 We cannot say Lucas meaningfully waived her right to be present. While informed by the trial court that the video would be viewed in chambers without her being present, nothing in the record indicates that the court or defense counsel informed Lucas that she had a right to be present. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for a new trial.

         ¶ 3 Background

         ¶ 4 Lucas was convicted of misdemeanor battery, misdemeanor resisting a peace officer, operating an unsafe vehicle, driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), and negligent driving in Cook County circuit court. She was sentenced to 24 months' conditional discharge.

         ¶ 5 Before presenting witnesses, the parties stipulated to the authenticity of the video of Lucas's traffic stop captured by Oak Lawn police Sergeant Edward Clancy's squad car. The State then sought to publish the video for the court. The court explained the courtroom procedure.

"THE COURT: [Defendant], what that means is the parties, your attorney and the State's attorney, have stipulated that there was a video taken by the squad car on this matter. That is evidence that the State has every right to introduce and that your attorney has the right to view, and that evidence will then be viewed by me because they are stipulating to it. We do not have video in this courtroom. What we do in this courtroom is I go back with your attorney and the State's attorney only. I view the video. There will be no questions asked because neither of the officers will be present. It is simply me watching the video. Neither of the attorneys can comment to me nor will I inquire of them. That will be done only in this courtroom on the record. All I do is watch the video. Do you understand that? [LUCAS]: Yes.
THE COURT: And we will do that first. [ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY (ASA)]: Yes, Judge. THE COURT: The court will be in recess. The court will now watch the video.
[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: If I may, I also explained that to you, correct? And I also explained what Judge Carmody just told you about the video. I explained all of that to you.
[LUCAS]: Yes."

         ¶ 6 The trial court paused the proceedings to watch the video in chambers in the presence of defense counsel and the ASA. Later, the trial court admitted into evidence the squad car video, which is contained in the record and has audio.

         ¶ 7 Following arguments, the court found Lucas guilty of battery to Officer Haron, resisting arrest, unsafe driving, DUI, and negligent driving. In so finding, the court explicitly stated it relied on the video and Clancy's testimony. The court noted that the video showed Lucas's driving was "disturbing" and that she was "belligerent" and admitted to drinking alcohol. The court further mentioned that Lucas's "general behavior" ...


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