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Governor Might Change Timing Of Hearsay Bill

By Marcus Gilmer in News on Aug 22, 2008 7:00PM

Governor Rod Balgojevich will more than likely perform an amendatory veto on legislation regarding allowing hearsay in first-degree murder trials. According to the Trib, the bill, "would allow a judge to decide at a pretrial hearing whether hearsay testimony could be admitted into court if the prosecution could prove that the defendant made the witness disappear." The current incarnation of the bill, which passed both the state House and Senate, currently does not include an effective date. Such an exclusion would mean the bill wouldn't go into effect until July 1, 2009, but Blagojevich wants to make the bill effective immediately. The bill's sponsor, Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi (D- Joliet), said, "The governor's likely going to do an amendatory veto, and the amendatory veto is going to make it clear that the bill is effective immediately. It's unfortunate that this got left out, but we're making sure that the corrected."

The bill was largely supported by Will County State's Atty. James Glasgow whose spokesman, Charles Pelkie, said, "It's our understanding that this is a technicality and we expect that to be remedied in short order. We've been in contact with the governor's office and we don't expect this to be an issue." Both Glasgow and Wilhelmi hope that the legislature will be able to address the bill in September. As the Trib notes, a bill that leads to the possible inclusion of hearsay could have an effect on the trial of Drew Peterson, a case that is loaded with hearsay evidence. It could also give new life to cases such as the 1996 disappearance of Bolingbrook's Rachel Mellon.