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IL S CT Roundup June 2017

30 Jun 2017 11:08 PM | Anonymous

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS v. IDA WAY. Docket No. 120023 Opinion filed April 20, 2017.

The circuit court barred defendant from introducing evidence that a medical condition possibly caused her to lose consciousness prior to hitting another vehicle, which resulted in serious injury to two people. A sole proximate cause defense was not appropriate in this case unless there was evidence that the sole proximate cause, not a proximate cause, of the collision was defendant’s sudden unforeseeable medical condition. Holton, 176 Ill. 2d at 134. Dr. McDermott, however, could not testify that defendant’s low blood pressure was the cause of her falling asleep or losing consciousness prior to the accident, only that it was a possibility. Based upon the offer of proof, defendant was unable to show that her theory as to why she lost control of her vehicle was the sole proximate cause of the resulting collision to the exclusion of the presumed impairment. Consequently, we find defendant failed to adequately support her claim that the trial court improperly barred her affirmative defense from proceeding.

People ex rel. Alvarez v. Howard, 2016 IL 120729 Filed December 1, 2016

Respondent did not err in transferring defendant’s case from criminal court to juvenile court. Under the previous version of section 5-130, defendant’s case was automatically transferred to criminal court because he was 15 years old when the crimes occurred. The legislature changed the automatic transfer age from 15 to 16, and this amendment was retroactive under section 4 of the Statute on Statutes. Accordingly, defendant’s case belongs in juvenile court, unless and until it is transferred to criminal court pursuant to a discretionary transfer hearing. Because the circuit court’s transfer of the case was not even erroneous, let alone outside the court’s jurisdiction or its legitimate authority, there is no basis for this court to issue a writ of mandamus or prohibition.

People ex rel. Glasgow v. Carlson, 2016 IL 120544  Filed December 1, 2016

Petitioner asks this court to compel respondent to (1) vacate its January 6, 2016, sentencing order, (2) classify as a Class 2 felony Mitchell Harper’s third violation of Illinois’s driving while under the influence (DUI) statute of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/11-501 et seq. (West 2014)), and (3) resentence defendant as a Class X offender pursuant to section 5-4.5-95(b) of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-95(b) (West 2014)). The circuit court also relied on excerpts from various editions of an Illinois judicial benchbook that suggested or implied a potential inconsistency in the section 11-501 sentencing provisions. “We conclude that defendant’s third DUI conviction constitutes aggravated DUI and must be treated as a Class 2 felony under the plain language of subsection (d)(2)(B) of section 11-501. Because the record shows that defendant has at least two prior Class 2 felony or higher convictions, he must be sentenced as a Class X offender on his aggravated DUI conviction in this case. 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-95(b) (West 2014); see also Morris, 2014 IL App (1st) 130152, ¶ 54 (affirming a Class X sentence on a defendant who was convicted of Class 2 felony aggravated DUI).”

People ex rel. Alvarez v. Gaughan, 2016 IL 120110 Filed December 1, 2016

The petitioner, seeks a writ of mandamus to compel respondent to sentence defendant, Steven Castleberry, with a mandatory 15-year firearm enhancement imposed on each of his two convictions for aggravated criminal sexual assault. Because “two convictions based on two separate acts of sexual penetration while armed with a firearm warrant the imposition of two separate sentence enhancements, one for each offense, we issue a writ of mandamus, ordering the respondent judge to vacate his sentencing order and resentence Castleberry, imposing the mandatory firearm enhancement on both of Castleberry’s convictions”

In re M.M., 2016 IL 119932 Filed December 1, 2016

At the close of a dispositional hearing on a juvenile petition based on neglect, the circuit court of Peoria County found that respondent, Heather M., was a fit parent to her children, J.M. and M.M. However, the court awarded temporary custody and guardianship to the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). We hold that section 2-27(1) of the Act does not authorize placing a ward of the court with a third party absent a finding of parental unfitness, inability, or unwillingness to care for the minor.

PEOPLE v.  BLACKIE VEACH (Docket No. 120649) Opinion filed May 18, 2017.

In this appeal, we examine the propriety of a growing practice in the appellate court of declining to consider ineffective assistance of counsel claims on direct review. A Coles County jury found defendant, Blackie Veach, guilty of two counts of attempted murder and rejected defendant’s 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. A majority of the appellate court affirmed, holding that the record was inadequate to resolve the issue. The majority encouraged defendant to raise the issue in a postconviction petition. 2016 IL App (4th) 130888. We allowed defendant’s petition for leave to appeal pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 315. We hold that the record in this case was sufficient for the appellate court to consider defendant’s ineffective assistance of counsel claim on direct review and, therefore, the appellate court erred in declining to consider the claim. We reverse the judgment of the appellate court and remand the cause to the appellate court for further review.

PEOPLE v.  MONTANA SEBBY. (Docket No. 119445) Opinion filed June 2, 2017.

Defendant was convicted by a jury of resisting a peace officer, a Class 4 felony (720 ILCS 5/31-1(a-7), and sentenced by the trial court to two years’ imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant argued that the trial court committed error in admonishing prospective jurors pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 431(b)  and that, despite his failure to object to that error, he was entitled to a new trial because the evidence was closely balanced. The trial court erred in asking potential jurors whether they had any “problems” with the Zehr principles. Under Rule 431(b), the trial court should have asked whether jurors understood and accepted those principles. Because the evidence was so closely balanced, the trial court’s clear instructional error alone may have tipped the scales in favor of the  State. We choose to err on the side of fairness and remand for a new trial. (DISSENTS FILED)

PEOPLE v.  MIESHA NELSON (Docket No. 120198) Opinion filed June 15, 2017

Defendant contended that she was denied her sixth amendment right to conflict-free counsel where attorneys from the same law firm represented defendant and codefendant Hall and defendant’s attorneys, in making their choice of defenses, decided to forgo asserting an innocence defense in favor of pursuing a joint defense of self-defense. (Defendant was represented by Richard Kling and Susana Ortiz, both from the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent College of Law. Hall was represented by Daniel Coyne, also from the Law Offices of Chicago-Kent.) Regarding establishing conflicts, the Echols rule does not afford courts the opportunity to assess whether the interests of the codefendants actually are at odds with each other in a particular case and, therefore, whether a conflict of interest exists. The Echols rule is therefore in conflict with the Sullivan standard for establishing an actual conflict and must be overruled. “We find defendant has failed to show that an innocence defense based on a lack of accountability was a plausible alternative defense. Accordingly, defendant has not shown an actual conflict of interest.”

PEOPLE v.  CARA M. RINGLAND (Docket No. 119484) Opinion filed June 29, 2017

A controlled substance was discovered during a traffic stop. These traffic stops were conducted by a special investigator appointed by Brian Towne, then State’s Attorney of La Salle County, pursuant to section 3-9005(b) of the Counties Code (55 ILCS 5/3-9005(b) (West 2012)). The circuit court granted each defendant’s motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence. The appellate court affirmed, holding that the conduct of the special investigator exceeded the scope of section 3-9005(b). “We hold that the State’s Attorney’s common-law duty to investigate suspected illegal activity did not apply to Towne because he made no showing that law enforcement agencies inadequately dealt with such investigation or that any law enforcement agency asked him for assistance. Absent this duty, the conduct of the SAFE unit fell outside of the scope of section 3-9005(b).” (DISSENT FILED)

Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association  |  P.O. Box 114  |  Wheaton, IL 60187  |  illinoispba@gmail.com

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