Kerry Bryson reviews People v. Sebby, handed down by the court Friday, June 2.
By Kerry Bryson, Office of the State Appellate Defender
On October 27, 2011, LaSalle County Sheriff's Deputies went to the Sebby residence to serve a custody order. They were looking for the defendant's mother, Bonnie, who they believed had current physical custody of the defendant's niece (L.S.). L.S.'s mother, Casey, was the defendant's sister. Casey died in a car accident a month prior, and the custody order directed law enforcement to assist L.S.'s biological father in obtaining custody of her.
Deputies had gone to the Sebby residence on two occasions during the week prior to October 27, but had been unsuccessful in serving Bonnie with the custody order. On the 27th, deputies arrived at 6 a.m., knocked on the door, and were met by a young woman who did not live at the home. The events that followed were recounted by both the deputies and the defendant and his family and friends, with each side giving a version which differed from the other, and with each version being plausible. The encounter ended with the defendant's arrest for resisting.
Ultimately, the case proceeded to jury trial. During jury selection, there were defects in the Rule 431(b) admonishments provided by the court (commonly known as the Zehr admonishments). Defense counsel, however, did not object to the defective admonishments. On appeal, the defendant relied on the plain error doctrine to challenge the unpreserved 431(b) error.