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People v. Brooks

OPINION FILED NOVEMBER 20, 1973.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,

v.

MICHAEL BROOKS, APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. ROBERT J. DOWNING, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant, Michael Brooks, appeals from judgments of the circuit court of Cook County entered upon his pleas of guilty to criminal offenses charged in three indictments, and from the order of the circuit court denying his petition to withdraw those pleas of guilty. The first indictment, containing seventeen counts, charged defendant and two co-defendants with the offenses of murder, attempt murder and attempt armed robbery; the second, containing one count, charged defendant and a co-defendant with armed robbery, and the third, containing three counts, charged defendant with aggravated battery and attempt murder.

Defendant contends first that the judgments must be reversed for the reason that the circuit court, prior to accepting the pleas of guilty, failed to determine that there was a factual basis for the pleas as required by Rule 402(c). (50 Ill.2d R. 402(c).) He contends further that the acceptance of the pleas of guilty was error because the court "upon defendant's clear denial that he had committed the acts that constituted the elements of the crimes charged," had earlier refused to accept the pleas, and that it was only after undue pressure had been brought upon defendant by his counsel to admit the commission of the acts, in order to present a factual basis for the plea, and after undue pressure had been exerted upon him to plead guilty, that the guilty pleas were made.

The record shows that on the morning of March 19, 1970, defendant, represented by retained counsel, was arraigned and entered pleas of not guilty. On defendant's motion he was examined by Dr. William H. Haines of the Behavior Clinic who made a diagnosis of "Sociopathic Personality Disturbance" and stated that defendant "knows the nature of the charge and is able to cooperate with his counsel." Defendant was then 17 years of age. On December 15, 1970, the cases were called for trial and defendant appeared with counsel who requested a "pretrial conference on all of the indictments involving this defendant." The court explained to defendant that a conference had been requested and the reason for holding it, and told defendant that if the conference were held his dissatisfaction with the results could not be made the basis of a motion for substitution of judges. Defendant stated that he understood the court's admonitions and consented to the conference. Defendant's parents were present in court, and in response to the inquiry of defense counsel stated that they consented to the holding of the conference.

Later that morning, in the presence of defendant and his parents, the court inquired of defense counsel whether he had explained to defendant the results of the conference. At the request of defense counsel the matter was put over to the afternoon in order to enable him to confer with defendant's older brother, who had not been present that morning. Upon court being reconvened counsel advised the court that defendant wished to withdraw his pleas of not guilty and enter pleas of guilty to all three indictments. The court explained to defendant the nature of the charge in each count of each indictment and the possible penalties, and in each instance, in response to the court's specific inquiries, defendant stated that he understood the nature of each charge and the penalties which could be imposed. Defendant was advised, and stated that he understood, that if he pleaded guilty there would be no trial and that he thereby waived the right to trial by jury, and the right to be confronted with the witnesses. The following then ensued:

"THE COURT: Are you pleading guilty because in fact you are guilty of the charges in each of these indictments that I have just read to you?

THE DEFENDANT: No, sir.

THE COURT: Pardon me?

THE DEFENDANT: No, sir. I'm pleading guilty because I believe I'll be given time for something I did not do.

THE COURT: Are you saying that you are not in fact guilty of the charges in the indictment?

THE DEFENDANT: No, sir; I'm saying I'm not guilty, but I'm pleading guilty."

The court thereupon refused to accept the pleas of guilty and ordered the case to proceed to trial. In response to the court's inquiry, counsel stated that it would be a bench trial. Shortly thereafter defense counsel advised the court that he had just had a short conference with defendant and "apparently he didn't understand the import of the question that was raised." The following then ensued:

"THE COURT: I just want to make sure you understand. Because I want for you to understand this. This is very important. I have read to you ...


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