People v. Gibbs, 2016 IL App (1st) 140785 (June). Episode 202 (Duration 7:56)
Was it error for the judge to deny defendant’s motion to continue the trial so he could build up his Lynch material?
Not in this case.
Defendant hit the victim over the head with a brick and took his phone. Defendant was only found guilty of aggravated battery and acquitted of the robbery.
After the trial the defense did produce 30 reports of the victim’s arrests for crimes such as aggravated criminal sexual assault, battery, armed robbery, and assault. Turns out victim was a bad dude.
At the trial, defendant was only allowed to admit one of the victim’s certified convictions.
When denying the continuance the trial judge said:
“It strikes me as a desire to delay now that the State has answered ready, and they have their complaining witness here in court. It’s not a game where you can answer ready, demand trial, knock some time off the term, and then request a continuance once the State answers ready.”
It did appear that the defense was only worried about this Lynch material until after the codefendant plead guilty.
Here, the court’s decision to deny the motion for continuance rested on the earlier demand for trial as well as his lack of diligence in pursuing his defense.
The defense argued that its failure to pursue a defense based on the victim’s violent criminal history was based on the codefendant’s unexpected “unavailability” and the late tendered discovery, there is no evidence that either event was a surprise requiring a change in trial strategy.
Defendant demanded trial and was running a speedy clock with knowledge that discovery was missing.
So he had no credibility when he then claimed surprise to justify a continuance to reevaluate his trial strategy. The trial court was not unreasonable in determining that the defense failure to pursue a strategy emphasizing the victim’s criminal history reflected a lack of diligence that could not be excused by his allegations of surprise.
This is particularly true where, as part of discovery (and months prior to trial), the defense had the victim’s Criminal History Report reflecting dozens of arrests for alleged crimes of violence.
Also, good discussing on when witness testimony is appropriate when admitting Lynch material.