People v. Wright, 40639

CourtSupreme Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtUNDERWOOD; WARD
Citation242 N.E.2d 180,41 Ill.2d 170
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Charles WRIGHT et al., Appellants.
Docket NumberNo. 40639,40639
Decision Date22 November 1968

Page 180

242 N.E.2d 180
41 Ill.2d 170
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee,
Charles WRIGHT et al., Appellants.
No. 40639.
Supreme Court of Illinois.
Nov. 22, 1968.

[41 Ill.2d 171]

Page 181

Geter & Geter, Chicago (Howard D. Geter,Sr., and Howard D. Geter, Jr., Chicago, of counsel), for appellants.

William G. Clark, Atty. Gen., Springfield, and John J. Stamos, State's Atty., Chicago (Fred G. Leach, Asst. Atty. Gen., Elmer C. Kissane and Sheldon M. Schapiro, Asst. State's Attys., of counsel), for appellee.


On May 12, 1966, the defendants were found guilty of gambling after a bench trial in the Cook County circuit court. The sentences imposed ranged from 3 months imprisonment and a $300 fine to one year's probation and a $100 fine. Defendants contend the evidence introduced

Page 182

against them in the trial court was illegally seized by police officers who, without consent or a valid search warrant, entered a private dwelling for the purpose of making an arrest.

The sole witness at defendants' trial was arresting officer Herman Waller, a Chicago policeman with 4 years experience, who testified he had made approximately 300 previous 'policy' (a numbers game) arrests. On November[41 Ill.2d 172] 24, 1965, Waller secured a search warrant for the second floor apartment of a two-story frame building at 1702 North Bissell in Chicago. He and four other officers arrived outside the premises at about 9:30 P.M. and established a surveillance of the building because they were informed that the individuals involved in a policy operation there would not be in the second floor apartment until 10:00 or 10:30 P.M. During the surveillance Office Waller observed persons who were allegedly engaged in the policy operation entering the first floor apartment rather than the second floor apartment. The officer testified that he recognized some of these people as 'known policy runners' whom he had arrested many times before, and after some 35 minutes spent in watching the front of the apartment building he proceeded to the rear of the premises to look into a window of the first floor apartment which was partially covered by curtains. Since the building did not have a back yard the officer was able to stand 1 to 3 feet from the rear window under the elevated tracks on the Chicago Transit Authority right-of-way. Through a crack in the window curtain Officer Waller testified that he could see the heads of the people inside, and through the closed window he could hear an adding machine being operated and a female voice inquiring: 'Are all your books in? Who has any short books? Where is all the money?' From his extensive experience with policy gambling operations the officer knew that adding machines were commonly used to add up the sums of money collected, and he also knew that a 'short book' referred to a situation where a runner does not have enough money to 'clear' his bets on a particular book. After about ten minutes of watching and listening through this window, Officer Waller went to the front door of the apartment, knocked, announced his office, and forced his way in after the person coming to the door told him to 'get lost.' The officer then went directly to the kitchen in the rear of the apartment where he observed defendants [41 Ill.2d 173] Estele Johnson, Francis Spires and a third defendant who is not a party to this appeal sitting at a table with an adding machine, policy writings and policy result slips thereon. Another defendant, Charles Wright, yelled 'Police' and threw a bag containing $179.35 behind a washing machine. Defendants Rufus Hooks and Jimmy Carter were also in the kitchen and a search of them revealed they were carrying policy writings and money in their pockets. At this time Officer Waller testified defendants Wright, Carter and Hooks made various incriminating remarks to him. Defendant Wright asked him, 'Well, why don't you go out and leave this policy alone.' Defendant Clark stated, 'Okay, you got me, let's go', and defendant Hooks remarked, 'Well, you have finally got me.'

The single question presented by the facts of this case is whether the trial court was correct in refusing to suppress the evidence thus secured, and resolution of this question depends upon whether the defendant's fourth amendment rights against unreasonable...

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  • People v. Arno
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
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    ......Gonzales, 388 F.2d 145 (5th Cir. 1968). (Fn. omitted.) In contrast, cases such as People v. Wright, 41 Ill.2d 170, 242 N.E.2d 180 (1968), and Ponce v. Craven, 409 F.2d 621 (9th Cir. 1969), have upheld visual observations where the police, as here, ......
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