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CLAY v. DIRECTOR

May 11, 1983

IVIE CLAY, PETITIONER,
v.
DIRECTOR, JUVENILE DIVISION, ILLINOIS DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS, RESPONDENT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Ivie Clay ("Clay") has filed a habeas corpus petition against the Director of the Juvenile Division ("Director") of the State of Illinois Department of Corrections ("Department").*fn1 Clay advances several grounds for relief:

    1. Her guilty plea was involuntary because she
  (a) was ignorant of available defenses and (b)
  misunderstood the terms of her plea agreement.
    2. She received inadequate representation from
  Assistant Public Defenders Roger Harris
  ("Harris") and Saul Friedman ("Friedman") both
  when she pleaded guilty and in connection with
  her motion to vacate the guilty plea.
    3. Denial of the motion to vacate deprived Clay
  of due process because she was unconditionally
  entitled, according to the trial court's own
  representations, to withdraw her plea if her
  sentence did not accord with the plea agreement.

Director now moves for summary judgment under Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 56.*fn2 For the reasons stated in this memorandum opinion and order, Director's motion is granted.

Facts

On August 8, 1977 Clay (then 15 years old) was arrested for aggravated assault and charged with delinquency. Because of Clay's indigency, Friedman was appointed as her counsel. At the initial interview Clay disclosed facts that might have established certain legal defenses to the charge against her. But Friedman did not apprise her of the availability of such defenses. Instead he urged her to enter into a plea agreement and plead guilty.

Unaware of any other option, Clay followed that recommendation on the understanding her plea agreement foreclosed any possibility of actual commitment. But that belief was apparently mistaken, for both Friedman and the Assistant State's Attorney handling the case have stated by affidavit that their only agreement was to amend the Complaint to read that the weapon used was a knife rather than a gun.*fn3

On September 28, 1977 Clay admitted her guilt before Cook County Circuit Court Judge Rogers. After Clay acknowledged her guilty plea had been induced by a plea agreement, Judge Rogers advised her of her unconditional right to withdraw the admission if he refused to accept the agreement. On October 26, 1977 Judge Rogers found Clay guilty of delinquency and committed her to Department. Even though that sentence represented a rejection of Clay's version of the plea bargain, Friedman neither moved to withdraw her admission nor informed her of her right to do so.

Convinced that Friedman had bungled the case, Clay's mother Ina immediately telephoned Assistant Director John Elson ("Elson") of the Northwestern University Legal Clinic (the "Clinic") for help.*fn4 Ina Clay Dep. 126. She told Elson her daughter had been promised probation in return for her guilty plea and Friedman "had sold her down the river." Elson Dep. 67-69.*fn5 Elson told Mrs. Clay he was too busy to represent her daughter but offered to consult with Friedman and "see if he would do anything about it." Elson Dep. 61. Mrs. Clay agreed. Id.

Elson called Friedman the next day, apprising him of Mrs. Clay's belief her daughter had been misinformed that her admission of guilt could not lead to commitment. Friedman apparently agreed with that assessment, acknowledging "there was a real problem with what Ivie Clay understood." Elson Dep. 86. Friedman said he would file a motion to vacate her guilty plea, assuring Elson "he didn't think there would be a big problem with the matter." Elson Dep. 87-88.

On November 4, 1977 Friedman called Elson to give him a general status report. Friedman said "he was processing the papers on the case and would have them done shortly and have the transcript typed up." Elson Dep. 76. On November 22 (within the prescribed 30-day period) Friedman filed the motion to vacate, using a standard printed form with blanks for the name of the "respondent" (in this case Clay). Needless to say, the form was seriously deficient as a presentation of Clay's specific basis for relief:

    1. It refers to respondent Clay throughout as a
  male.
    2. It advances very generalized grounds for
  vacating the plea, none of which really
  encompassed Clay's present habeas claims (this is
  a literal transcription of the form, warts and
  all):
      4. That the minor respondent did not fully
    comprehend the significance of his admission.
      5. That the minor respondent was not
    admonished in his admission, in that there was
    no affirmative showing that the court informed
    the minor respondent and ...

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