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People v. Duncan

OPINION FILED JULY 10, 1981.

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

v.

GEORGE DUNCAN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. ROBERT MANNING, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE HEIPLE DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

After a jury trial, defendant was convicted of murder and sentenced to a 40-year term. In a post-trial motion, defendant claimed that his attorney was operating under a conflict of interest that denied him the effective assistance of counsel. He asks for a new trial. Alternatively, he asks that his sentence be reduced. No other issues are raised.

What are the facts? On May 19, 1980, defendant, George Duncan, hired Attorney Dorian LaSaine to defend him in this cause. At that time, and prior thereto, Mr. LaSaine was the political campaign manager for Joseph Gibson, an assistant Peoria County State's Attorney. Mr. Gibson was a candidate for the office of Peoria County State's Attorney. Gibson and LaSaine were close personal friends and had professional encounters in criminal cases. In his political campaign, Mr. Gibson marketed himself as a prosecutor with a fervent anticrime posture. He prosecuted George Duncan.

• 1 Before trial the circuit judge was informed of the association of the prosecutor and defense counsel. He summoned Mr. Duncan to the bench in the presence of both attorneys and apprised him of the possibility of conflicting interests. He explained how such a conflict, on Mr. LaSaine's part, could harm his defense. Then the following exchange transpired:

"THE COURT: Do you have any questions that you want to ask me about this problem that I'm discussing with you?

DEFENDANT DUNCAN: Well, yes, sir. I have complete confidence in Mr. LaSaine, but I didn't know that he was campaign manager.

THE COURT: Uh-huh.

DEFENDANT DUNCAN: I said I knew that they was acquainted, but I didn't know he was campaign manager for Mr. Gibson.

THE COURT: Uh-huh.

DEFENDANT DUNCAN: But I have complete confidence in him."

Finally the trial judge asked:

"THE COURT: * * * And I'm asking you now, at this time, knowing what I have said to you and understanding what I've said to you, do you wish Mr. LaSaine to continue to represent you in this case?

DEFENDANT DUNCAN: Yes, sir.

THE COURT: Okay. And you understand that you will be giving up any right that you may have at a later time to complain of Mr. LaSaine's representation of you for the reason that there was a conflict of interest because he is ...


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