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People v. Bennett

OPINION FILED MARCH 30, 1972.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

WILLIAM BENNETT, APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JOSEPH A. POWER, Judge, presiding.

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

This appeal challenges the validity of the judgment orders of the Cook County circuit court denying a post-conviction petition, adjudging the petitioner guilty of contempt of court for admittedly false statements contained in the verified petition, imposing a six months sentence of imprisonment (consecutive to the term being served) and directing the State's Attorney to write the prison authorities recommending denial of petitioner's "good time" credit.

Petitioner William Bennett was arrested in October, 1964, on an aggravated battery charge. The victim died several weeks later, and petitioner was then charged with murder. He was originally represented by experienced, retained counsel who was subsequently appointed by the court when petitioner's family was unable to provide the additional fees requested by counsel to defend the murder charge.

Petitioner thereafter withdrew his not guilty plea, entered a plea of guilty and was sentenced to imprisonment for 14 years to 14 years and 1 day. Approximately 4 1/2 years later, petitioner filed a pro se verified post-conviction petition (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 38, par. 122-1 et seq.) including the following allegations:

"11. That on May 25, 1965, his attorney told him that the State is reccomendint [sic] 20 to 30 years, and that the best he could do was to plead guilty and he would get not less than one year nor more than fourteen years.

"12. Lacking experience to assure himself effective legal representation in his case in advance, your petitioner relied upon the direction, advice and representation of this court appointed attorney thereby changing and entering a plea of guilty to the Cook County Indictment General Number 64-3403."

Petitioner was returned from the penitentiary for an evidentiary hearing at which he and the attorney, who had represented him in the murder charge proceedings culminating in the plea of guilty, both testified. The contempt finding and judgment is predicated upon this cross-examination of petitioner:

"Q. What did your lawyer tell you you would possibly get, if you pled guilty?

A. Fourteen years.

Q. Now, in your sworn statement, in your affidavit, you stated that on May 26th, 1965, `his attorney told him that the State is recommending twenty to thirty years and that the best he could do was to plead guilty,' and you could get not less than one year nor more than fourteen years. Now, what are you talking about?

A. Just what it says there, counselor.

Q. You knew that you were being charged with murder, right?

A. Right.

Q. You knew the minimum for murder was fourteen ...


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