APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon.
ROBERT L. GAGEN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE KARNS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant, Curtis Johnson, entered a negotiated plea of guilty in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County to an indictment charging murder and was sentenced to a term of 14 to 20 years imprisonment. Defendant appeals the trial court's denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea contending that his plea was a result of coercion by his attorney, thus rendering it involuntary, and that there was an insufficient factual basis to support his guilty plea to the charge of murder.
Defendant was indicted on October 16, 1975, for the offense of murder allegedly committed on September 3, 1975. Defendant was represented by an assistant public defender at his arraignment on October 22, 1975, at which time he pleaded not guilty to the charge; however, he informed the court on that date that his attorney was Robert Godfrey and that although he had not yet paid Godfrey to represent him, he intended to do so. For the purposes of the arraignment, the assistant public defender continued to represent the defendant with the understanding that if Godfrey desired to enter the case the public defender would withdraw. On October 31, 1975, Robert Godfrey, acting for the defendant, filed a motion for discovery. Thereafter, on November 18, 1975, Godfrey appeared in open court with the defendant and moved orally for a continuance which was granted. On December 29, 1975, a motion to suppress was filed on behalf of the defendant through his attorney, Robert Mays, who was acting as co-counsel with Robert Godfrey. The case was called for trial on January 21, 1976, at which time Godfrey, with the defendant's consent, requested that the cause be continued. This motion for continuance was granted and the matter was set down for trial on February 18, 1976.
Immediately prior to the commencement of trial on February 18, 1976, defendant informed the court that he wished to have a bench trial and that he was waiving his right to a jury trial. Godfrey related to the court that he had discussed this matter with the defendant and that he had advised him of the alternatives. Defendant at that point informed the court that he wished to have a new lawyer appointed. For his explanation, defendant stated "[b]ecause he say that, you know, we're not getting along, I feel that I'm defending myself because he's saying that you can't, you know, what he can't do for me, you know." Thereafter the following colloquy occurred:
"THE COURT: Well, as I indicated to you yesterday, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Godfrey is a very good lawyer, has tried many cases before this court.
THE COURT: You may be in disagreement with what Mr. Godfrey tells you the evidence is going to be against you in this case.
THE DEFENDANT: This is why I wanted a new lawyer.
THE COURT: Well, let me finish. But that doesn't mean that you're entitled to a new lawyer. The new lawyer more than likely would tell you the same thing. The evidence, what Mr. Godfrey is probably trying to tell you is, what the State is going to be able to prove against you
THE DEFENDANT: We haven't had no motions or nothing.
THE COURT: There's a motion on file. We're going to hear, Mr. Johnson, we're going to hear your motion to suppress as a part of the trial. Since its a bench trial we're going to hear it at the same time.
THE DEFENDANT: He haven't set up no defense for this case.
THE COURT: Well, yesterday do you recall when I told you to give him the names of any witnesses you wanted him to call?