People v. Davis

Decision Date15 November 1976
Docket NumberNo. 48052,48052
Citation357 N.E.2d 792,65 Ill.2d 157,2 Ill.Dec. 572
Parties, 2 Ill.Dec. 572 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellant, v. Willie DAVIS, Appellee.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

William J. Scott, Atty. Gen., Springfield, and Bernard Carey, State's Atty., Chicago (James B. Zagel, Jayne A. Carr, Asst. Attys. Gen., Laurence J. Bolon, Linda Ann Miller, Asst. State's Attys., and Michael W. Ward, law student, of counsel), for the People.

Paul Bradley, First Deputy State Appellate Defender, James Geis, Deputy State Appellate Defender, and Brenda Richey, Asst. State Appellate Defender, Chicago, for appellee.


Defendant, Willie Davis, pleaded guilty in the Cook County circuit court on July 30, 1973, to the theft of an automobile and was released on 4 years' probation. On December 10 a petition to revoke defendant's probation was filed alleging that on September 26 defendant was arrested for, and on September 27 was found guilty of, criminal trespass to a motor vehicle and sentenced to 30 days' imprisonment. A rule to show cause why the probation should not be terminated was issued. At the subsequent hearing on that rule the following colloquy occurred:

'Mr. Cooley (Ass't State's Attorney): If the Court please, the defendant Willie Davis, has two cases up today. The cases that are up today is a preliminary hearing and the violation of probation. The case on violation of probation will be heard first.

MR. BASTIANONI (Ass't Public Defender): On the violation of probation, the defendant at this time is making a motion for a continuance on the grounds that I believe the second offense of September 27th, when the defendant was found guilty of attempted theft, I believe there was a plea and I already ordered a transcript from January 18th to see whether or not the defendant's plea of guilty was knowingly a plea of guilty and if he was properly admonished as to the effect of that plea.

MR. COOLEY: The State would object. This case has been continued on Mr. Davis' motion and the Court's record will reflect that. In fact, it was heard in this court while the defendant was in fact on probation. If counsel does have a defect in the second plea, it would be proper for a motion for appeal. Your Honor, I am sure you recall that you were in fact the judge who took that plea from Mr. Davis and we qualified in making a very good record of that.

THE COURT: I am going to deny the motion for a continuance.

MR. COOLEY: Your Honor, the purpose of this hearing is to show cause why the defendant's probation should not be terminated. I would ask that your Honor take judicial notice of the fact that on July 30, 1973, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Branch 64, it was your Honor who placed the defendant, Willie Davis, on four-years probation for an offense of grand theft.

I would also ask your Honor to take judicial notice of the fact that in the Circuit Court of Cook County in Branch 64 and in the same courtroom, once again, a case was brought before your Honor alleging that on September 27, 1973, Willie Davis committed the offense of criminal trespass to a motor vehicle. The offense alleges that Mr. Willie Davis did in fact, without lawful authority from Joseph Wright, enter a motor vehicle belonging to Joseph Wright. He entered that motor vehicle knowingly on the 27th of September, 1973.

Your Honor, the defendant was brought in on that charge on that date and your Honor in fact accepted a plea of guilty from Mr. Willie Davis to that offense, specifically, Chapter 38, Section 21--2. Your Honor sentenced Mr. Willie Davis to a term not to exceed 30 days in the House of Corrections.

I have, for your Honor's inspection, a copy of the court's own records of the proceedings which occurred on October (sic) 27, 1973, and signed by your Honor which would indicate that on line 2, sheet 8 of the court files that on the 27th of September, 1973, there was an indication (sic) of Willie Davis for violation of Chapter 38, Section 21--2 did plead guilty and was found guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in the House of Correction. A copy of that official court record is signed by your Honor.

THE COURT: Yes, that is true. The sheet is signed by me, too.'

The court overruled defendant's objections to the method of proving the September conviction, found defendant to have violated his probation, heard a statement detailing defendant's extensive record of arrests, convictions and sentences and ordered a presentence investigation. The common law record indicates defendant was subsequently sentenced to 1 to 4 years' imprisonment, although no transcript of those proceedings is included in the record before us.

Defendant appealed, the Appellate Court for the First Judicial District reversed, holding the trial court erred in taking judicial notice of the September conviction (32 Ill.App.3d 760, 336 N.E.2d 151), and we allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal.

The single issue presented is the propriety of the trial court's action in taking judicial notice of the September conviction. Traditionally, courts have been cautious in expanding the scope of judicial notice. (9 Wigmore, Evidence, sec. 2583 (3d ed. 1940); McCormick, Evidence, sec. 328 (2d ed. 1972); 1 Jones, Evidence, sec. 2.2 (6th ed. 1972).) In McCormick on Evidence, section 330, at 766 (2d ed. 1972), it is said to be 'settled, of course, that the courts, trial and appellate, take notice of their own respective records in the present litigation, both as to matters occurring in the immediate trial, and in previous trials or hearings. The principle seemingly is equally applicable to matters of record in the proceedings in other cases in the same court, and some decisions have recognized this, but many courts still adhere to the needless requirement of formal proof, rather than informal presentation, of recorded proceedings in other suits in the same court.' (Emphasis added.) Taking judicial notice of matters of record in other cases in the same court is simply an application of the increasingly recognized principle that matters susceptible of judicial notice include facts 'capable of immediate and accurate demonstration by resort to easily accessible sources of indisputable accuracy.' McCormick, at 763 (2d ed. 1972); see also 9 Wigmore, Evidence, sec. 2571, at 548 (3d ed. 1940); 1 Jones, Evidence, sec. 2.2 at 32 (6th ed. 1972); Rule 9(2)(d), Uniform Rules of Evidence; 4 Jones, Evidence 372 (6th ed. 1972).

The Federal Rules of Evidence, which became effective July 1, 1975, provide as to judicial notice:


Rule 201
. Judicial Notice of Adjudicative Facts

(a) Scope of rule.--This rule governs only judicial notice of adjudicative facts.

(b) Kinds of facts.--A judicially noticed fact must be one not subject to reasonable dispute in that it is either (1) generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court or (2) capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.

(c) When discretionary.--A court may take judicial notice, whether requested or not.

(d) When mandatory.--A court shall take judicial notice if requested by a party and supplied with the necessary information.

(e) Opportunity to be heard.--A party is entitled upon timely request to an opportunity to be heard as to the propriety of taking judicial notice and the tenor of the matter noticed. In the absence of prior notification, the request may be made after judicial notice has been taken.

(f) Time of taking notice.--Judicial notice may be taken at any stage of the proceeding.

(g) Instructing jury.--In a civil action or proceeding, the court shall instruct the jury to accept as conclusive any fact judicially noticed. In a criminal case, the court shall instruct the jury that it may, but is not required to, accept as conclusive any fact judicially noticed.' Fed.R.Evid. 201.

The limitation of judicial notice to 'adjudicative facts' is explained in the Advisory Committee's note which accompanied the proposed rules as they were submitted by the Supreme Court to Congress:


Subdivision (a). This is the only evidence rule on the subject of judicial notice. It deals only with judicial notice of 'adjudicative' facts. No rule deals with judicial notice of 'legislative' facts. * * *

The omission of any treatment of legislative facts results from fundamental differences between adjudicative facts are legislative facts. Adjudicative facts are simply the facts of the particular case. Legislative facts, on the other hand, are those when have relevance to legal reasoning and the lawmaking process, whether in the formulation of a legal principle or ruling by a judge or court or in the enactment of a legislative body. The terminology was coined by Professor Kenneth Davis in his article An Approach to Problems of Evidence in the Administrative Process, 55 Harv.L.Rev. 364, 404--407 (1942). The following discussion draws extensively upon his writings. In addition, see the same author's Judicial Notice, 55 Colum.L.Rev. 945 (1955); Administrative Law Treatise, Ch. 15 (1958); A System of Judicial Notice Based on Fairness and Convenience, in Perspectives of Law 69 (1964).

The usual method of establishing adjudicative facts is through the introduction of evidence, ordinarily consisting of the testimony of witnesses. If particular facts are outside the area of reasonable controversy, this process is dispensed with as unnecessary. A high degree of indisputability is the essential prerequisite.

Subdivision (b). With respect to judicial noptice of adjudicative facts, the tradition has been one of caution in requiring that the matter be beyond reasonable controversy. This tradition of circumspection appears to be soundly based, and no reason to depart from it is apparent. * * *

This rule is consistent with Uniform Rule 9(1) and (2) which limit judicial notice of facts to those 'so universally known...

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