THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. JESSE
No. 78-509 Appellate Court of Illinois,
First District, First Division 68 Ill. App. 3d 881; 386 N.E.2d
584; 1979 Ill. App. LEXIS 2105; 25 Ill. Dec. 313; 11 A.L.R.4th
1268 February 5, 1979, Filed PRIOR HISTORY: [***1]
APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ARTHUR A.
SULLIVAN, Judge, presiding.
DISPOSITION: Judgment reversed.
COUNSEL: James J. Doherty, Public Defender, of Chicago (Thomas W.
Murphy and Timothy P. O'Neill, Assistant Public Defenders, of
counsel), for appellant.
Bernard Carey, State's Attorney, of Chicago (Lee T. Hettinger and
J. Jonathan Regunberg, Assistant State's Attorneys, of counsel),
for the People.
JUDGES: Mr. JUSTICE McGLOON delivered the opinion of the court.
McGILLICUDDY and BUCKLEY, * JJ., concur.
* Justice Buckley participated in this decision while assigned to the Illinois Appellate Court, First District.
OPINION: [*881] [**585] Defendant was charged by complaint with
the offense of unlawful use of weapons in that he knowingly
possessed karate sticks in violation of section 24 -- 1(a)(1) of
the Criminal Code of 1961. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 24
The testimony presented at trial indicated that at approximately
2:40 a.m. on August 11, 1977, the defendant was walking out of an
alley near 76 East Madison Street in Chicago carrying karate
sticks, two painted and decorated wooden sticks, each one foot in
length [***2] and connected by a link chain six or seven inches
The defendant explained at trial that he was enrolled at the
Golden Dome Karate School where he had purchased the karate sticks
and that he had been to karate classes that evening until 10 p.m.
The defendant further testified that he had gone to the beach
after class and was on his way home from the beach when officers
After hearing the above evidence, the trial court, sitting without
a jury, ruled that the karate sticks were a bludgeon within the
meaning of section 24 -- 1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code, found the
defendant guilty as charged, and sentenced him to 60 days in the
House of Correction.
[*882] Defendant now appeals and contends that the legislature
when it enacted section 24 -- 1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code never
intended to prohibit mere possession of equipment used in a
Section 24 -- 1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code states: "A person
commits the offense of unlawful use of weapons when he
Sells, manufactures, purchases, possesses or carries any bludgeon,
black-jack, slung-shot, sand-club, sand-bag, metal knuckles or any
knife, commonly referred [***3] to as a switchblade knife * * *."
(Emphasis added.) In finding the defendant guilty of violating
section 24 -- 1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code, the trial court
reasoned that the karate sticks were a bludgeon. We believe the
trial court erred in this determination.
A Michigan case, People v. Malik (1976), 70 Mich. App. 133,
135-36, 245 N.W.2d 434, 436, provides the following compilation of
definitions of bludgeon: "'[A] short stout stick or club, with one
end loaded or thicker and heavier than the other, used as a
weapon.' The Oxford English Dictionary 942 (1933).
'[A] short, heavy club with one end weighted, or thicker and
heavier than the other.' The Random House Dictionary of the
English Language, 161 (unabridged ed. 1971).
'1. a short stick that usu. has one thick or loaded end and is
used as a weapon. 2: something used to attack or bully.' Webster's
New Collegiate Dictionary, 121 (G & C Merriam Co. ed 1975)." Each
of the above definitions provides that a bludgeon is a stick with
one end loaded or thicker or heavier than the other end. There is
nothing in the record to indicate that one end of the instant
karate sticks was loaded or thicker or [***4] heavier than the
other end and we therefore cannot conclude that the instant karate
sticks falls within the definition of a bludgeon.
The State, however, calls our attention to the case of People v.
Collins (3d Dist. 1972), 6 Ill. App. 3d 616, 286 N.E.2d 117, in
which the court held that a heavy metal chain wrapped with tape
and having a handle made from looping the chain fell within both
the definition of a bludgeon and blackjack. However, the court in
Collins went on to cite a New Jersey case, State v. Witcher
(1959), 58 N.J. Super. 464, 156 A.2d 709, in which the court
broadened the definition of bludgeon to include any club-like
weapon. The Collins court further indicated [**586] that the
defendant had not offered, nor did the court see, any possible use
of the instrument other than as a weapon. This is unlike the
instant case where the karate [*883] sticks are a part of a
legitimate sport and in which the defendant testified he had used
the karate sticks at karate lessons the evening of his
Our research has disclosed no Illinois case which has decided the
exact question of whether karate sticks fall within the definition
of bludgeon [***5] as used in section 24 -- 1(a)(1) of the
Criminal Code. In People v. Malik (1976), 70 Mich. App. 133, 245
N.W.2d 434, however, our sister State Michigan considered whether
karate sticks were a bludgeon within the confines of their
unlawful use of weapons statute. (See Mich. Stat. Ann. § 28.421.)
Applying various definitions of a bludgeon to karate sticks, the
Michigan court held that karate sticks were clearly not a
bludgeon. The court further noted that the Michigan statute
specifically listed the items illegal to possess and that in such
a case the express mention of one thing implies the exclusion of
other similar things. (See Stowers v. Wolodzko (1971), 386 Mich.
119, 191 N.W.2d 355.) The same reasoning applies to the instant
case. (See Nelson v. Union Wire Rope Corp. (1964), 31 Ill. 2d 69,
199 N.E.2d 769.) We therefore similarly conclude that the instant
karate sticks are not a bludgeon and that possession of the
instant instrument is not proscribed by section 24 -- 1(a)(1) of
the Criminal Code.
For the foregoing reason, we hold that the trial court erred in
finding the defendant guilty of violating section 24 -- 1(a)(1) of
the Criminal Code and reverse the judgment [***6] entered by the