People v. Harris

Citation161 N.E.2d 809,17 Ill.2d 446
Decision Date24 September 1959
Docket NumberNo. 35225,35225
PartiesPEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Defendant in Error, v. Melvin HARRIS, Plaintiff in Error.
CourtSupreme Court of Illinois

Charles A. Bellows and Jason Ernest Bellows, Chicago, for plaintiff in error.

Latham Castle, Atty. Gen., Benjamin S. Adamowski, State's Attorney, Chicago (Fred G. Leach, William H. South, Asst. Attys. Gen., and Francis X. Riley, Asst. State's Atty., Chicago, of counsel), for the People.


Upon trial by jury in the criminal court of Cook County Melvin Harris was convicted of unlawful possession of narcotics. He was sentenced to imprisoment in the penitentiary for not less than two years nor more than ten. He prosecutes this writ of error, contending that the evidence is insufficient; that his right of cross-examination was improperly curtailed; that incompetent testimony was received for the State; and that the prosecutor's use of peremptory challenges resulted in excluding Negroes from the jury, thereby depriving defendant, a Negro, of constitutional rights.

The record discloses that on the evening of June 26, 1957, in Chicago, one John Norwood was arrested for possessing narcotic drugs. At about 9:30 p. m. he and two police officers, George Sims and Thomas Bingham, went to a 'chicken shack' restaurant at 45th Street and South Parkway, where he made a telephone call. Two other officers, James Bryson and John Urso had followed in another car; and Bryson and Sims entered the place with Norwood. When the call was placed Bryson observed the number dialed, and had Norwood tilt the receiver so that he, too, could hear the voice on the other end of the wire. The number was that of the Metropolitan Liquors, located directly across the street from the chicken shack. After the telephone conversation, Norwood, with officers Sims and Bingham, went to his apartment where he received a telephone call. Bryson, who had remained at the chicken shack, received a call from officer Sims about 10:30 and shortly thereafter observed defendant come out of the liquor store.

Bryson then entered a car with officer Urso and followed defendant, who was driving a 1957 Lincoln automobile, to 1114 East 45th Street. Defendant stopped his car at that address, entered the building, and a few minutes later came out and drove east on 45th Street to Woodlawn Avenue, where he turned south. The officers managed to follow him on Woodlawn as far as 55th Street, but lost him. They drove on to 62nd Street and Stony Island Avenue, where they observed him standing beside his parked car. Urso went up to defendant, placed him under arrest, and searched him. In his shirt pocket Urso found a brown paper bag, which was taken by officer Bryson and later given to officer Sims who, in turn, delivered it to the checmist at the crime laboratory. In addition to the bag defendant had more than $1700 in cash upon his person. The officers took defendant first to his home, where a search was made of the premises, and then to police headquarters. The paper bag turned over to the chemist contained heroin.

To support the contention that the offense was not sufficiently proved defendant argues that the package taken from him was not shown to be the same one as that tested by the police chemist, and that no field test was made of its contents. The contention is without merit. The officers testified that the package was given to Sims, who placed it in a safe, initialed it, and the following afternoon delivered it to the chemist. There is nothing in the evidence to indicate that it was tampered with, or that a different package was substituted. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the facts testified to are enough to show that the contends were not disturbed. The fact that ordinary inferences are drawn from proved facts does not mean that guilt has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Glass, 16 Ill.2d 595, 158 N.E.2d 639.

Apparently for the purpose of showing that the officers' testimony was the result of spite and hence unworthy of belief, defendant relies upon his evidence that after he was arrested they unsuccessfully tried to extort money from him. The State, on the other hand, points to extensive testimony introduced on its behalf to the effect that defendant attempted to bribe the officers and offered them...

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27 cases
  • Gaines v. Thieret, 85 C 10386
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
    • August 5, 1987 the county or State, a showing not attempted here. ... A similar position has been taken by this court in People v. Harris (1959), 17 Ill.2d 446, 450-51, 161 N.E.2d 809, cert. denied (1960), 362 U.S. 928, 80 S.Ct. 755, 4 L.Ed.2d The defendant cites People v. Wheeler (1978), 22 Cal.3d 258......
  • Teague v. Lane, 84-2474
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1987
    ...89; People v. Cross (1968), 40 Ill.2d 85, 237 N.E.2d 437; People v. Dukes (1960), 19 Ill.2d 532, 169 N.E.2d 84; People v. Harris (1959), 17 Ill.2d 446, 161 N.E.2d People v. Payne, 99 Ill.2d 135, 152-53, 75 Ill.Dec. 643, 651-52, 457 N.E.2d 1202, 1210-11 (1983) (Simon, J., dissenting). [I]t i......
  • People v. Gaines, 52794
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • December 4, 1981
    ...202, 221-23, 85 S.Ct. 824, 836-837, 13 L.Ed.2d 759, 773-74.) A similar position has been taken by this court in People v. Harris (1959), 17 Ill.2d 446, 450-51, 161 N.E.2d 809, cert. denied (1960), 362 U.S. 928, 80 S.Ct. 755, 4 L.Ed.2d 747; cf. People v. Powell (1973), 53 Ill.2d 465, 477-78,......
  • People v. Newsome, 81-338
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • December 7, 1982
    ...162, 164-65, 263 N.E.2d 89; People v. Dukes (1960), 19 Ill.2d 532, 540, 169 [110 Ill.App.3d 1051] N.E.2d 84; and People v. Harris (1959), 17 Ill.2d 446, 450-51, 161 N.E.2d 809, cert. denied, 362 U.S. 928, 80 S.Ct. 755, 4 L.Ed.2d 747. Swain involved an Alabama black convicted of rape and sen......
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