People v. Rivera, No. 98609.

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtKarmeier
Citation879 N.E.2d 876,316 Ill.Dec. 488,227 Ill.2d 1
Docket NumberNo. 98609.
Decision Date29 November 2007
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Michael RIVERA, Appellant.
879 N.E.2d 876
227 Ill.2d 1
316 Ill.Dec. 488
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
v.
Michael RIVERA, Appellant.
No. 98609.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
November 29, 2007.

[879 N.E.2d 878]

James K. Leven, Chicago, for appellant.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, Springfield, Richard A. Devine, State's Attorney, Chicago (Linda D. Woloshin, Assistant Attorney General, Chicago, James E. Fitzgerald, Mary L. Boland, Alan J. Spellberg, Judy L. DeAngelis, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel), for the People.

OPINION

Justice KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion:


Defendant, Michael Rivera, was charged in the circuit court of Cook County with two counts of first degree murder. Following a jury trial, defendant was found guilty and was subsequently sentenced to 85 years' incarceration in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendant appealed, arguing, that (1) the trial court erred when it sua sponte raised a reverse-Batson (see Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69 (1986)) challenge to his use of a peremptory challenge during jury selection; (2) the procedure resulting in the imposition of his extended-term sentence violated the rule announced in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 120 S.Ct. 2348, 147 L.Ed.2d 435 (2000); and (3) the procedure resulting in the imposition of his extended-term sentence violated his right to a jury trial as guaranteed by the Illinois constitution. A divided appellate panel rejected those contentions and affirmed defendant's conviction and sentence. 348 Ill.App.3d 168, 284 Ill.Dec. 476, 810 N.E.2d 129. We granted the plaintiff's petition for leave to appeal. 210 Ill.2d R. 315.

When the matter was initially before this court, defendant advanced multiple arguments, all of which were merely facets of the same Batson and Apprendi arguments defendant raised below. Specifically, defendant submitted that (1) trial judges do not have third-party standing to raise Batson challenges sua sponte; (2) the trial court's sua sponte Batson challenge to defense counsel's peremptory strike of juror Deloris Gomez was incompatible with the three-step Batson process; (3) the trial court erred in proceeding to the second step of the Batson process where no inference of a prima facie case of discrimination had been established; (4) the trial judge erred in his ultimate determination that defense counsel discriminated against juror Gomez; (5) the trial court's improper denial of defense counsel's peremptory strike of juror Gomez was reversible error; (6) the trial court's "violation of state statutory and constitutional guarantees to jury trial" are not amenable to harmless-error review; (7) Apprendi violations are not subject to harmless-error review; and (8) Apprendi violations in this case are not harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.

879 N.E.2d 879

Upon our initial consideration of this matter, we held that a trial court has the authority to raise a Batson issue sua sponte, but "it may do so only when a prima facie case of discrimination is abundantly clear." People v. Rivera, 221 Ill.2d 481, 515, 304 Ill.Dec. 315, 852 N.E.2d 771 (2006). We stated, when a court acts sua sponte, "the trial court must make an adequate record consisting of all relevant facts, factual findings, and articulated bases" for its finding of a prima facie case. Rivera, 221 Ill.2d at 515, 304 Ill.Dec. 315, 852 N.E.2d 771. We concluded that the record before us did not reveal a prima facie case of racial discrimination, "if indeed that * * * was the basis for the trial court's sua sponte action" (Rivera, 221 Ill.2d at 515, 304 Ill.Dec. 315, 852 N.E.2d 771), as the State then argued (see Rivera, 221 Ill.2d at 511, 304 Ill.Dec. 315, 852 N.E.2d 771 ("the State asserts that `the trial court's remarks make it clear that the court's sua sponte reverse-Batson challenge was grounded solely on * * * race'")). We remanded this cause to the circuit court for a hearing on the matter of the existence of a prima facie case of discrimination, urging the trial judge to include in the record any omitted evidence pertinent to that question and to articulate proper findings of fact and conclusions of law with respect to the threshold question of a prima facie case of discrimination, specifying, in particular, what kind of discrimination the judge believed was at issue, i.e., race, gender, or combined race-gender. Because of our interim disposition, we did not address defendant's other issues.

The hearing in question has since been conducted, the trial judge having stated on the record that he believed a prima facie case of gender discrimination was evident when defense counsel sought to excuse juror Deloris Gomez by peremptory challenge. The matter now returns to this court for further consideration.

Pertinent facts prior to remand were fully set forth in our previous opinion. We reiterate facts as necessary to provide a framework for our disposition, beginning with the issue that resulted in remand.

During jury selection, defense counsel questioned juror Deloris Gomez, a business office supervisor at Cook County Hospital's outpatient orthopedic clinic. In the course of that questioning, Gomez acknowledged that Cook County Hospital is known for the treatment of gunshot victims and, as a part of her employment at the clinic, she has contact with patients, "checking them in." Gomez said her interaction with the victims of violent crime would not affect her ability to serve as a juror in the case. Following voir dire, and apparently in the presence of Gomez and other prospective jurors, defense counsel announced his intention to use his fourth peremptory challenge against Gomez, as the following excerpt from the transcript indicates:

"MR. DECKER [defense attorney]: Your Honor, with thanks, we would ask to excuse Mrs. Gomez.

THE COURT: I'm going to ask you to remain, Mrs. Gomez. I'm going to ask counsel to join me, if the court reporter will join me, and the defendant will join me in chambers. Excuse me, ladies and gentlemen."

In chambers, the court directed defense counsel to "kindly articulate a basis of why you are excusing Ms. Gomez." Defense counsel protested, "The court has done it on its own motion sua sponte." The trial court responded: "I will do it. It is the citizen's right to sit as a juror, and I will implicate myself sua sponte if I feel somebody's rights are being impinged upon * * *." Defense counsel then complied with the court's directive, responding:

"Mrs. Gomez has a connection to a hospital that on a daily basis probably

879 N.E.2d 880

sees more gunshot victims than any other hospital in the world * * *. Given that fact that she's in the orthopedic section, I think on a daily basis even though she's a supervisor, even though she's not a rehabilitative nurse, she on a daily basis sees those victims who are victims of violent crime. For those reasons it constrains me. I know she has some kind of Hispanic connection given her name. I'm pulled in two different ways. For those reasons I asked that the —."

At that point in defense counsel's explanation, the trial court interrupted counsel, noting that "Mrs. Deloris Gomez appears to be an African-American." The court then asked to "hear from" the State on the issue, the prosecutor having been totally silent and uninvolved to that juncture. After some initial observations regarding the theory of the case and the issue for the jury's consideration, the prosecutor, apparently sensing the court's sentiment, stated that the offered reason for excusing Gomez was insufficient. Defense counsel then noted that he had previously accepted an African-American woman to sit on the jury, and the court quickly pointed out that Gomez was the second "African-American female" that the defense had sought to exclude. The court stated it was the articulated reason given for the peremptory challenge of Gomez that was of particular concern. The court concluded:

"I've heard her answers to the questions. I've looked at her jury information form, and I'm quite frankly very much concerned, Counsel, as to why Mrs. Deloris is being excused — Mrs. Deloris Gomez is being excused. She works in a clinical division of this hospital. It may have a reputation of having many emergency cases, I presume, involving gunshot cases, but again she works in a business office, the very first line identifying her job.

* * *

I did this sua sponte because I was concerned about the right of Mrs. Gomez to be a juror and participate. If the State in fact had done this, I certainly would have found they would have established a prima facie case by the very reason — what I'm going to do is allow Ms. Gomez — allow her to be seated, not excuse her on the basis of your peremptory.

I feel under these circumstances the reasons given by you, Mr. Decker, do not satisfy this Court. As far as I'm concerned, it's more than a prima facie case of discrimination against Mrs. Gomez. I'm not going to allow her to be excused. She will be seated as a juror over objection."

Defense counsel then asked for, and was granted, leave to conduct further questioning of Gomez, and noted defendant's objection of record. After completing that questioning, counsel reiterated his previous bases for excusing Gomez. In apparent response to his perception of the court's concerns, counsel stated he was "not trying to excuse a juror because of her race." He then noted that the jury was comprised predominantly of women, and he offered that he was "trying to get some impact from * * * men in the case." The circuit judge responded that he would "override" counsel's peremptory challenge and would seat Gomez as a juror as there was no basis for excusing her for cause.

Pursuant to our remand, a hearing was held on November 15, 2006. At that hearing, the trial judge, who had since retired, addressed the bases for his Batson rulings.

Whether intentionally or unintentionally, the judge's opening...

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78 practice notes
  • People v. Anderson, No. 1–08–0500.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • February 14, 2011
    ...error may be harmless. The harmless-error analysis also applies to violations of the Illinois Constitution. See People v. Rivera, 227 Ill.2d 1, 30, 316 Ill.Dec. 488, 879 N.E.2d 876 (2007) (harmless-error analysis applied to violation of the right to a jury trial under the federal constituti......
  • People v. Brown, No. 1–15–0132
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 16, 2017
    ...court on direct appeal described the evidence of the petitioner's guilt as " ‘overwhelming.’ " Id. ¶ 31 (quoting People v. Rivera , 227 Ill. 2d 1, 26, 316 Ill.Dec. 488, 879 N.E.2d 876 (2007) ). The court pointed out that the evidence at trial consisted of witnesses who were with the petitio......
  • People v. Jackson, No. 1–15–0487
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 18, 2018
    ...to harmless error analysis. Washington v. Recuenco , 548 U.S. 212, 221–22, 126 S.Ct. 2546, 165 L.Ed.2d 466 (2006) ; People v. Rivera , 227 Ill. 2d 1, 27, 316 Ill.Dec. 488, 879 N.E.2d 876 (2007). To determine if a constitutional error such as an Apprendi error was harmless, we must ask wheth......
  • People v. Davis, No. 105092.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • May 21, 2009
    ...consisting of all relevant facts, factual findings, and articulated bases' for its finding of a prima facie case." People v. Rivera, 227 Ill.2d 1, 5, 316 Ill.Dec. 488, 879 N.E.2d 876 (2007), quoting People v. Rivera, 221 Ill.2d 481, 515, 304 Ill.Dec. 315, 852 N.E.2d 771 (2006). Here, the tr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
78 cases
  • People v. Anderson, No. 1–08–0500.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • February 14, 2011
    ...error may be harmless. The harmless-error analysis also applies to violations of the Illinois Constitution. See People v. Rivera, 227 Ill.2d 1, 30, 316 Ill.Dec. 488, 879 N.E.2d 876 (2007) (harmless-error analysis applied to violation of the right to a jury trial under the federal constituti......
  • People v. Brown, No. 1–15–0132
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 16, 2017
    ...court on direct appeal described the evidence of the petitioner's guilt as " ‘overwhelming.’ " Id. ¶ 31 (quoting People v. Rivera , 227 Ill. 2d 1, 26, 316 Ill.Dec. 488, 879 N.E.2d 876 (2007) ). The court pointed out that the evidence at trial consisted of witnesses who were with the petitio......
  • People v. Jackson, No. 1–15–0487
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 18, 2018
    ...to harmless error analysis. Washington v. Recuenco , 548 U.S. 212, 221–22, 126 S.Ct. 2546, 165 L.Ed.2d 466 (2006) ; People v. Rivera , 227 Ill. 2d 1, 27, 316 Ill.Dec. 488, 879 N.E.2d 876 (2007). To determine if a constitutional error such as an Apprendi error was harmless, we must ask wheth......
  • People v. Davis, No. 105092.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • May 21, 2009
    ...consisting of all relevant facts, factual findings, and articulated bases' for its finding of a prima facie case." People v. Rivera, 227 Ill.2d 1, 5, 316 Ill.Dec. 488, 879 N.E.2d 876 (2007), quoting People v. Rivera, 221 Ill.2d 481, 515, 304 Ill.Dec. 315, 852 N.E.2d 771 (2006). Here, the tr......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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