Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

by
In 1993, ISU student Lockmiller was found dead in her Normal apartment. Police questioned Lockmiller’s then-boyfriend, Swaine, and former boyfriends, including Beaman. At a meeting including the McLean County prosecutors and several detectives, the prosecutors decided to charge Beaman. In discussing Lockmiller’s relationship with Murray with defense counsel, the prosecution did not disclose Murray’s drug use and incidents of domestic violence against another girlfriend, nor Murray’s incomplete polygraph examination. At trial, the state argued that all other possible suspects were excluded by alibis. Beaman was convicted of first-degree murder. Beaman sought postconviction relief, based on failure to disclose material information on Murray’s viability as a suspect. In 2008, the Illinois Supreme Court vacated Beaman’s conviction. The state dismissed the charges. In April 2013, the state certified his innocence. Beaman filed a 42 U.S.C. 1983 suit against the prosecutors and detectives with state law claims, including malicious prosecution, against the Town of Normal. The district court dismissed the claims. In 2014, Beaman filed a state court suit against the detectives and Normal, pleading the state law claims that the federal court had dismissed without prejudice. The circuit court granted defendants summary judgment, reasoning that Beaman could not satisfy the elements to establish malicious prosecution, noting testimony that the prosecutor rejected suggestions to investigate other avenues. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. The appellate court erroneously focused its inquiry on whether the “officer[s] pressured or exerted influence on the prosecutor’s decision or made knowing misstatements upon which the prosecutor relied" and failed to consider whether the defendants proximately caused the commencement or continuance or played a significant role in Beaman’s prosecution. View "Beaman v. Freesmeyer" on Justia Law

by
In 2008, Defendant was charged with the sexual assault of his 10-year-old daughter, J.G. The indictment alleged that defendant inserted his fingers in J.G.’s vagina, licked her vagina, and touched her buttocks. After his conviction, Defendant filed multiple pro se collateral challenges to his convictions and at various times was represented by different attorneys. In 2015, Defendant filed a pro se motion seeking DNA testing under the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/116-3). The state argued that the controversy at trial was not whether another individual had committed the crime but whether the alleged assault occurred at all. At a hearing, Defendant appeared pro se but was accompanied by attorney Brodsky, who sought to file a Supreme Court Rule 13 limited scope appearance. The court denied Brodsky’s oral request, stating that allowing the motion would mean that attorney Caplan, Brodsky, and the defendant were all working on the case. Defendant later argued extensively in support of his DNA motion. Brodsky was not present. The appellate court vacated the denial of the motion, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s "Powell: decision concerning a court's refusal to hear chosen counsel. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding no “Powell” violation. A section 116-3 action is civil in nature and independent from any other collateral post-conviction action and Brodsky’s request failed completely to comply with the requirements of that rule. View "People v. Gawlak" on Justia Law

by
Defendant was charged following a search of his residence pursuant to warrant. He unsuccessfully moved to quash the warrant and suppress evidence and was convicted of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon but was acquitted of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, finding that the facts recited in the warrant application did not establish a sufficient nexus between the residence and the criminal activities. The officer had stated that: two of three drug buys conducted over 19 days occurred in the vicinity of the residence; Casillas arrived at the first drug buy in a vehicle registered to Hernandez (defendant’s live-in girlfriend) at the residence; while the officer was texting Casillas about the third drug buy, other officers, watching the residence, observed Casillas exit the residence and walk to meet the officer and exchange cocaine for $150 in cash; Casillas had been identified from a driver’s license photograph; law enforcement records showed that Casillas was an associate of Hernandez. The connection between Casillas and Hernandez was not further explained. The statement alone did not create an inference that the two were involved in drug dealing together, let alone that Casillas was storing evidence at defendant’s home. There was no evidence that Hernandez had ever been suspected of or charged with any crime nor any evidence that Casillas had been involved in drug dealing before his three transactions with the officer. There was no evidence that Casillas used Hernandez’s vehicle more than the one time described in the complaint. View "People v. Manzo" on Justia Law

by
Petitioner sought reinstatement of his withdrawn post-conviction petition. The state argued that neither the Post-Conviction Hearing Act, 725 ILCS 5/122-5 nor the Code of Civil Procedure, 735 ILCS 5/13-217 authorizes “reinstatement,” so that the motion should, instead, be treated as a motion for leave to file a new, successive petition that must meet the cause-and-prejudice test. Referencing only section 122-5, Petitioner argued, broadly, that a “judge has discretion to allow a post-conviction petitioner’s motion to reinstate his petition after he has voluntarily withdrawn it.” Petition argued that the state coerced him into withdrawing his petition by stating that it would again seek the death penalty upon retrial if he succeeded in his challenge; that his attorney and the court failed to adequately admonish him regarding his options, the current law, and the likely course of death penalty jurisprudence; and that the procedure by which the withdrawal took place was generally unlawful. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court’s denial of the motion as untimely, having been filed seven years after the motion to withdraw; “it is clear that petitioner sought reinstatement well beyond either statute's time limitations.” The facts of record would not have supported a finding that petitioner’s delay in refiling was not due to his culpable negligence. The timing was intentional and strategic. Petitioner is, free to seek leave to file a successive post-conviction petition. View "People v. Simms" on Justia Law

by
Following a third trial, the jury found Defendant guilty of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder. Defendant appealed, arguing that the state failed to exercise due diligence in obtaining DNA test results, so the trial court erred in granting an extension of the speedy-trial deadline. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court denied leave to appeal; the U.S. Supreme Court denied his petition for writ of certiorari. In 2014, a private attorney retained by Defendant filed a post-conviction petition, which was summarily dismissed. Defendant’s attorney filed a notice of appeal. Two weeks later, defendant filed a timely pro se motion to reconsider the dismissal and to allow supplementation, alleging his post-conviction attorney had failed to include several claims that defendant had requested be part of the petition. Defendant stated that, after receiving a letter from his attorney “about money and why he didn’t raise ineffective [assistance] of direct appeal counsel,” defendant “never heard from counsel again, until [the] court dismiss[ed] [the] petition.” The circuit court denied the motion and did not consider the merits or whether defendant’s attorney should have included those claims. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. A defendant who retains a private attorney at the first stage of postconviction proceedings is entitled to reasonable assistance of counsel. At the first stage, there are no hearings, no arguments, and no introduction of evidence; any assertion of deficient attorney performance will almost certainly be that counsel failed to include claims the defendant wanted to have raised. A defendant who retains private counsel is bound by the attorney’s decision not to include a claim in the petition. The rationale for requiring a reasonable level of assistance from privately retained counsel at the second and third stages of postconviction proceedings applies equally to first stage representation. View "People v. Johnson" on Justia Law

by
After being found unfit to stand trial on a charge of domestic battery against his mother, Benny was admitted involuntarily to the Elgin Mental Health Center. He was medicated involuntarily and later found fit to stand trial. Benny was transferred to the jail, stopped taking his psychotropic medication, was again found unfit to stand trial and returned to Elgin. The state sought to administer psychotropic medication involuntarily. During one day of a two-day hearing, Benny was physically restrained. His attorney asked for the shackles to be removed. The security officer stated that he was “listed as high elopement risk” and submitted a “patient transport checklist.” The judge spoke to Benny, but denied the request. Benny interrupted testimony and indicated that the restraints caused him pain. The court granted the petition allowing involuntary administration of psychotropic medication, not to exceed 90 days. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated that ruling, holding that the appeal fell within the mootness exception for issues capable of repetition yet evading review. Courts may order physical restraints in involuntary treatment proceedings only upon a finding of manifest necessity; they must give the patient’s attorney an opportunity to be heard and must state on the record the reasons for allowing shackles. Benny’s attorney did not object to the court's procedures, ask for any additional opportunity to be heard, or request findings or an explicit statement of reasons. A specific objection was required to preserve procedural arguments, given that the procedure for allowing restraints in involuntary treatment proceedings was not established at the time of Benny's hearing. View "In re Benny M." on Justia Law

by
After being found unfit to stand trial on a charge of domestic battery against his mother, Benny was admitted involuntarily to the Elgin Mental Health Center. He was medicated involuntarily and later found fit to stand trial. Benny was transferred to the jail, stopped taking his psychotropic medication, was again found unfit to stand trial and returned to Elgin. The state sought to administer psychotropic medication involuntarily. During one day of a two-day hearing, Benny was physically restrained. His attorney asked for the shackles to be removed. The security officer stated that he was “listed as high elopement risk” and submitted a “patient transport checklist.” The judge spoke to Benny, but denied the request. Benny interrupted testimony and indicated that the restraints caused him pain. The court granted the petition allowing involuntary administration of psychotropic medication, not to exceed 90 days. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated that ruling, holding that the appeal fell within the mootness exception for issues capable of repetition yet evading review. Courts may order physical restraints in involuntary treatment proceedings only upon a finding of manifest necessity; they must give the patient’s attorney an opportunity to be heard and must state on the record the reasons for allowing shackles. Benny’s attorney did not object to the court's procedures, ask for any additional opportunity to be heard, or request findings or an explicit statement of reasons. A specific objection was required to preserve procedural arguments, given that the procedure for allowing restraints in involuntary treatment proceedings was not established at the time of Benny's hearing. View "In re Benny M." on Justia Law

by
Rozsavolgyi filed a charge of discrimination on the basis of disability with the Illinois Department of Human Rights against the city of Aurora. Rozsavolgyi had been employed by the city from 1992 until she was involuntarily discharged in 2012. Months later, Rozsavolgyi was notified that she had the right to commence a civil action. Rozsavolgyi filed suit, alleging civil rights violations under the Illinois Human Rights Act, 775 ILCS 5/1-101, including failure to accommodate her disability, disparate treatment, retaliation, and hostile work environment. The circuit court certified three questions for permissive interlocutory review to the appellate court under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308. After the appellate court addressed each question Rozsavolgyi obtained a certificate of importance under Rule 316 as to one question: Does the Local Government and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/1, apply to a civil action under the Human Rights Act where the plaintiff seeks damages, reasonable attorneys’ fees, and costs? If yes, should the court modify, reject or overrule its prior holdings that the Tort Immunity Act applies only to tort actions and does not bar actions for constitutional violations? The Illinois Supreme Court vacated and remanded the appellate court’s response. The question is “improperly overbroad, should not have been answered, and does not warrant” review. The question ignores the breadth of the Human Rights Act, which provides for numerous types of civil actions for unlawful conduct in a variety of contexts. View "Rozsavolgyi v. The City of Aurora" on Justia Law

by
The Cook County circuit court found sections of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (705 ILCS 405/5-101(3), 5-605(1) unconstitutional as applied to Destiny who was 14 years old when she was charged with four counts of first-degree murder, one count of attempted murder, one count of aggravated battery with a firearm, three counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, and one count of unlawful possession of a weapon. The court held that these sections, which do not provide jury trials for first-time juvenile offenders charged with first-degree murder, violated the equal protection clauses of the U.S. and Illinois Constitutions, but rejected the defense argument that these sections were unconstitutional on due process grounds. On direct appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court affirmed with respect to the due process challenge but reversed with respect to equal protection. Destiny cannot show that she is similarly situated to the comparison groups: recidivist juvenile offenders charged with different crimes and tried under one of two recidivist statutes. These are the only classes of juvenile offenders who face mandatory incarceration if adjudicated delinquent and the legislature has denied a jury trial only to the former. The two classes are charged with different crimes, arrive in court with different criminal backgrounds, and are tried and sentenced under different statutes with distinct legislative purposes. Due process does not mandate jury trials for juveniles. View "In re Destiny P." on Justia Law

by
Appellate court erroneously declined to consider ineffective assistance of counsel claim on direct review where record was sufficient for consideration of that claim. A Coles County jury found Veach guilty of two counts of attempted murder, rejecting his theory that someone else committed the crimes. On direct review, defendant argued that his trial counsel was ineffective for stipulating to the admission of recorded statements of the state’s witnesses. The appellate court affirmed, finding the record inadequate to resolve the issue. The majority encouraged defendant to raise the issue in a postconviction petition. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, holding that the record was sufficient for the appellate court to consider defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim on direct review. The state had conceded that the appellate court should have addressed the claim, but argued that counsel’s decision to stipulate to the witnesses’ recorded statements was not prejudicial nor was it deficient performance. In Illinois, a defendant must generally raise a constitutional claim alleging ineffective assistance of counsel on direct review or risk forfeiting the claim; issues that could have been raised and considered on direct review are deemed procedurally defaulted. View "People v. Veach" on Justia Law