The opinion of the court was delivered by: Shadur, District Judge.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Ivie Clay ("Clay") filed a habeas corpus petition against
the Director of the Juvenile Division ("Director") of the
State of Illinois Department of Corrections ("Department"),
advancing 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.
On May 11, 1983 this Court granted Director's motion for
summary judgment (564 F. Supp. 206, the "Opinion"). Clay now
moves for reconsideration of that ruling pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. ("Rule") 59(e). For the reasons stated in this
memorandum opinion and order, Clay's motion is denied.
In August 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.
Friedman urged her to enter into a plea agreement and plead
guilty, failing to apprise her of the availability of certain
legal defenses to the charge against her. Clay followed his
recommendation on the mistaken understanding her plea
agreement foreclosed any possibility of actual commitment.
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
agreement, Friedman neither moved to withdraw her admission
nor informed her of her right to do so.
Convinced Friedman had bungled the case, Clay's mother
immediately telephoned Assistant Director John Elson ("Elson")
of the Northwestern University Legal Clinic (the "Clinic")
— Clay's counsel in this habeas proceeding — for help. Elson
called Friedman the next day, apprising him of Mrs. Clay's
belief her daughter has been misinformed that her admission of
guilt could not lead to commitment. Friedman apparently agreed
with that assessment and said
he would file a motion to vacate her guilty plea.
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. It
merely advanced very generalized grounds for vacating the
plea, none of which really encompassed Clay's present habeas
claims. On February 24, 1978 Judge Rogers held a hearing on
the motion to vacate. Instead of arguing the motion himself,
Friedman arranged for Harris, another Assistant Public
Defender, to attend the hearing. Because Harris was totally
unfamiliar with the case, he declined to present any argument
in support of the motion. Not surprisingly, Judge Rogers
denied the motion.
Though not then aware of the February 24 hearing and its
outcome, Elson learned in early March that no progress had
been made in the Clay matter. Consequently Elson changed his
earlier position declining direct representation of Clay. On
March 10 he filed (1) a petition to substitute himself and a
Northwestern law student for the Public Defender's Office as
Clay's counsel and (2) an amended motion to vacate the guilty
plea. On March 16 Elson entered an appearance in the case.
Shortly thereafter Elson appeared before Judge White to argue
the amended motion. Judge White reset the motion for April 28
before Judge Rogers, who was then on vacation. On March 26 the
30-day period for an appeal from the denial of the original
motion to vacate lapsed.
At the April 28 hearing Judge Rogers refused to entertain
the motion, primarily on grounds of untimeliness: It was not
filed within 30 days of the October 26 order of commitment.
Believing the state procedural rule invoked by Judge Rogers
foreclosed any other ...