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People v. Medley

MAY 7, 1970.

PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,

v.

JOSEPH E. MEDLEY, JR., ET AL., DEFENDANTS, JOSEPH E. MEDLEY, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County; the Hon. HOWARD LEE WHITE, Judge, and the Hon. CREEL DOUGLASS, Judge, presiding. Reversed and remanded.

SMITH, J.

The sole issue in this case is whether or not the defendants were properly admonished as to the consequences of their pleas of guilty to the charge of armed robbery. They appeared at different times before different judges, withdrew their pleas of not guilty and entered pleas of guilty. As to Sargent and Agans, the State's Attorney concedes that the admonition was inadequate and properly confesses error in this court. This leaves us only with the sufficiency of the admonition to Medley.

So far as the consequences of his plea are concerned, the record shows the following colloquy:

Q. "You further understand if you plead guilty and the court accepts your plea of guilty you could be sentenced to an indeterminate term of years in the penitentiary with a minimum of not less than 2 years."

A. "Yes, sir."

Q. "Knowing all that do you still desire to plead guilty?"

A. "Yes, sir."

The court accepted the plea of guilty and imposed the sentence. The decision in this case is controlled by People v. Terry, 44 Ill.2d 38, 253 N.E.2d 383. In Terry at p 38, the admonition held inadequate was as follows:

Court: "Well, the punishment for burglary is an indeterminate sentence in the penitentiary. What is it, Mr. Hall?"

Mr. Hall: (State's Attorney): "Not less than one year."

Court: "Not less than one year. And knowing that to be the penalty, do you still want to enter a plea of guilty, . . . Mr. Terry?"

Mr. Terry: "Yes, sir."

The State's Attorney insists however that People v. Scott, 43 Ill.2d 135, 251 N.E.2d 190, controls. In Scott, the court advised the defendant that upon a conviction of the crime of burglary, he could be sentenced to the penitentiary for any number of years and not less than one year. In Scott, the Supreme Court held the admonition sufficient. The State's Attorney concedes that the admonition in Scott using the words "for any number of years" is more simply stated than using the term "indeterminate number of years" and therefore we should follow Scott rather than Terry. We are not at liberty to do so. The court in Terry uses the precise language that the trial court did in this case and used the term "indeterminate." Both of these cases were decided by the Supreme Court after the events of the case at bar. The State's Attorney argues that actually it is pure semantics to differentiate between the term "indeterminate number of years" and the words "any number of years" and that this record does not show the defendant was in any way confused or misled by the use of the term "indeterminate." The State's Attorney asks us to apply an improper test. We might presume that the trial court would not have accepted this plea had it not been satisfied that it was understandingly made and that the defendant comprehended the nature of the crime charged and the punishment fixed by law. In so doing, we would be violating the mandate of the Supreme Court in People v. Mackey, 33 Ill.2d 436, 211 N.E.2d 706, in which the Supreme Court said at p 438:

"To this end the rule has carefully spelled out the information which must be conveyed to a defendant to give him full knowledge of the charge against him, and leaves little, ...


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