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The People v. Flathers

OPINION FILED MARCH 23, 1953.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, DEFENDANT IN ERROR,

v.

MILTON E. FLATHERS, PLAINTIFF IN ERROR.



WRIT OF ERROR to the Circuit Court of Adams County; the Hon. FRED G. WOLFE, Judge, presiding.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE CRAMPTON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiff in error, Milton E. Flathers, brings a writ of error to the circuit court of Adams County, contending he was not sufficiently informed of his right to counsel as required by Rule 27A of this court. He was indicted by the grand jury of that county for burglary and was arraigned, waived counsel, pleaded guilty and sentenced to five to ten years in the penitentiary. All of the proceedings involved here took place on May 22, 1951.

Rule 27A, 400 Ill. 22,) reads as follows: "In all criminal cases wherein the accused upon conviction shall, or may, be punished by imprisonment in the penitentiary, if, at the time of his arraignment the accused is not represented by counsel, the court shall, before receiving, entering, or allowing the change of any plea to an indictment, advise the accused he has a right to be defended by counsel. If he desires counsel, and states under oath he is unable to employ such counsel, the court shall appoint competent counsel to represent him. The court shall not permit waiver of counsel, or a plea of guilty, by any person accused of a crime for which, upon conviction, the punishment may be imprisonment in the penitentiary, unless the court finds from proceedings had in open court that the accused understands the nature of the charge against him, and the consequences thereof if found guilty, and understands he has a right to counsel, and understandingly waives such right. The inquiries of the court, and the answers of the defendant to determine whether the accused understands his right to be represented by counsel, and comprehends the nature of the crime with which he is charged, and the punishment thereof fixed by law, shall be recited in, and become a part of, the common-law record in the case; provided, in no case shall a plea of guilty be received or accepted from a minor under the age of eighteen years, unless represented by counsel." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1951, chap. 110, par. 259.27A.

On this question the relevant evidence is contained in the following colloquy:

"The Court: Have you an attorney to represent you?

Mr. Flathers: No, sir.

The Court: Now, Mr. Flathers, you are charged in this indictment with the burglary of the home of Gerald Poor, and are not charged with stealing anything in there but breaking in with intent to steal something. You are up here for either a plea of guilty or not guilty. If you haven't an attorney and haven't any money to pay one and want to stand trial, it would be the duty of the Court to appoint one to represent you. Do you want an attorney to represent you?

Mr. Flathers: I want to plead guilty.

The Court: If you want to plead not guilty you have the right to stand trial and I would appoint an attorney to represent you, but if you want to plead guilty there's no use to appoint an attorney to represent you. Do you fully understand that?

Mr. Flathers: Yes, sir.

The Court: I want you to know your rights on it. Do you understand that?

Mr. Flathers: Yes, sir.

The Court: Have you ever been in any ...


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