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People v. Coppersmith

OPINION FILED MARCH 21, 1977.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE,

v.

RONALD COPPERSMITH, PETITIONER-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. RICHARD J. FITZGERALD, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE O'CONNOR DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Petitioner, Ronald Coppersmith, on September 10, 1971, after a hearing, was adjudicated unfit to stand trial on two counts of murder and remanded under the then applicable statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 104-3(a)) to the custody of the Department of Mental Health until such time as he regained fitness.

On July 11, 1975, petitioner filed a handwritten pro se petition:

"Petition for Sanity Hearing

Now come Petitioner Seek for a Sanity Hearing and Pray for his freedom he is Sane. this is the truth So help God.

Sign Petitioner Ronald Coppersmith."

The State moved to dismiss this petition.

Prior to the filing of the petition, a staff psychiatrist at Chester Mental Health Center had submitted a medical report on petitioner, expressing the psychiatrist's professional judgment that there was no substantial probability that petitioner would ever reach a point where he would be considered fit to stand trial. On December 15, 1975, subsequent to the filing of the petition, the assistant superintendent of the Chester Mental Health Center sent a letter to the Assistant State's Attorney containing a copy of a psychiatric evaluation of petitioner, dated November 21, 1975. The letter said that Dr. Goldsborough stated that petitioner was not fit to stand trial and could not at this time cooperate with counsel.

After this letter was called to the trial court's attention on January 13, 1976, the court sustained the State's motion to dismiss. Petitioner, represented by the Public Defender of Cook County, appeals.

The section of the Criminal Code under which petitioner was remanded to the custody of the Department of Mental Health (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 38, par. 104-3) was repealed by the Unified Code of Corrections, which became effective January 1, 1973 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, pars. 1008-5-1, 1008-6-1). The subject matter of the repealed section is contained in section 5-2-2 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-2).

Section 5-2-2 provides (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 1005-2-2):

"(a) If the defendant is found unfit to stand trial or be sentenced, the court shall remand the defendant to a hospital, as defined by the Mental Health Code of 1967, and shall order that a hearing be conducted in accordance with the procedures, and within the time periods, specified in such Act. The disposition of defendant pursuant to such hearing, and the admission, detention, care, treatment and discharge of any such defendant found to be in need of mental treatment, shall be determined in accordance with such Act. If the defendant is not ordered hospitalized in such hearing, the Department of Mental Health shall petition the trial court to release the defendant on bail or recognizance, under such conditions as the court finds appropriate, which may include, but need not be limited to requiring the defendant to submit to or to secure treatment for his mental condition.

(b) A defendant hospitalized under this Section shall be returned to the court not more than 90 days after the court's original finding of unfitness, and each 12 months thereafter. At such re-examination the court may proceed, find, and order as in the first instance under paragraph (a) of this Section. If the court finds that defendant continues to be unfit to stand trial or be sentenced but that he no longer requires hospitalization, the defendant shall be released under paragraph (a) of this Section on bail or recognizance. Either the State or the defendant may at any time petition the court for review of the defendant's fitness.

(c) A person found unfit under the provisions of this Article who is thereafter sentenced for the offense charged at the time of such finding, shall be credited with time during which he was confined in a public or private hospital after such a finding of unfitness. If a defendant has been confined in a public or private hospital after a finding of unfitness under Section 5-2-6 for a period equal to the maximum sentence of imprisonment that could be imposed under Article 8 for the offense or offenses charged, the court ...


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