People v. Grant

Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District 46 Ill. App. 3d. 125, 360 N.E.2d 809 (1977)

Facts: Seth Grant was sentenced 3-9 years, guilty of aggravated battery and obstructing a police officer.  Grant was at a bar and drank 4 drinks in 2.5 hours.  There was a scuffle outside involving people in the bar and the police and Grant wasn’t involved.  Grant then emerged from the crowd and struck Officer Vonderahe twice in the face.  Officer Yarcho placed D under arrest and testified that great force was required to get him in the car.  An hour later he had behavior/symptoms of a seizure and was rushed to the hospital.  Yarcho testified that even greater force was needed this time to get him into the ambulance.  D suffers from psychomotor epilepsy and has a history of violent attacks on other persons that have been caused by this condition.  D testifies that he went blank at the bar and remembers only 3 days after the event.  He has had previous blackouts and takes medicine for the epilepsy.  Dr Ludin’s opinion is that at the time of the offenses, D was suffering from a psychomotor seizure which prevented his conscious mind from controlling his actions.  Officer Yarcho testified that he was alert and not confused when he was arrested.  He also responded in an appropriate manner when questioned about his history.

Procedural History:  Trial court found him guilty, now appealing.

Issue: Was he guilty of aggravated battery if he suffered from a psychomotor seizure at the time of the incident?

Holding:  Maybe/maybe not.

Reasoning:  The jury was not given proper instruction for the case.  The court gave the jury instructions regarding insanity.  However, the matter in question is one of automatism, not insanity.  Automatism is defined as the state of a person who, through capable action, is not conscious of what he is doing.  The jury instructions also do not contain instruction on the defense of involuntary conduct.  For these reasons, D’s convictions should be reversed and the case should be retried with proper instruction.  The factual resolution of the question in this case should be left up to a jury.  Although a voluntary act is an absolute requirement for criminal liability, there is no requirement that every act preceding the actual commission of the offense be voluntary.

Disposition: Reversed and remanded with directions.

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