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People v. Washington

OPINION FILED JANUARY 20, 1984.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

CHARLES WASHINGTON, APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Lawrence Genesen, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied March 30, 1984.

Charles Washington was convicted by a jury in the circuit court of Cook County of the murder of Nathan Bottley (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 9-1) and was given a sentence of 28 years. The appellate court (111 Ill. App.3d 711) reversed, holding that the defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel. The court ordered a new hearing on the defendant's pretrial motions and a new trial. We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal under Rule 315 (87 Ill.2d R. 315).

In November 1977, Albert Johnson was shot to death in Chicago Heights. The defendant, a Chicago Heights resident, was a suspect in that shooting, but was not arrested. On May 7, 1979, Nathan Bottley, the brother-in-law of the defendant, was shot and killed in a truck garage in Chicago. Chicago police, acting on information that the defendant had previously threatened Bottley and on two eyewitness accounts of the murder, made inquiries of Chicago Heights police regarding the defendant. Chicago Heights police officers re-interviewed witnesses to the November 1977 murder of Albert Johnson and on May 16, 1979, on the basis of the information gained from the re-interviews, a Chicago Heights officer arrested the defendant for the murder of Albert Johnson. The prosecution for the murder of Johnson was pending at the time of the conviction from which the appeal here was taken.

The defendant was first taken to the Chicago Heights police station and questioned about the Johnson and Bottley murders. Thereafter, the defendant was taken to Chicago and placed in a lineup where two eyewitnesses identified him as the man who shot Nathan Bottley. The defendant was charged with the Chicago murder and then returned to the Chicago Heights police station. The grand jury later returned an indictment against the defendant for the murder of Nathan Bottley.

The defendant filed pretrial motions, claiming his arrest in Chicago Heights was without probable cause and that the lineup identifications should be suppressed. A consolidated pretrial hearing was held on the motions. The defendant was represented at the hearing on pretrial motions he filed and at trial by an attorney, Thomas Helsel, who served as the city attorney for Chicago Heights on a part-time basis. At the hearing, the assistant State's Attorney brought the defense attorney's other employment to the attention of the trial court. There was this colloquy in the defendant's presence:

"ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY: Judge, also I would like to put something in the record right now. I have discussed it with counsel before.

I would like the Court to be aware of, and let the record be perfectly clear that Mr. Helsel, who represents the defendant in this matter, is the City Attorney for the City of Chicago Heights.

THE COURT: I know that.

ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY: I want it on the record, to make sure there was no conflict in the future, and that this matter of course, of the allegation that it happened in the City of Chicago, and not in Chicago Heights. I want the record to be clear that he is the prosecutor for the City of Chicago Heights.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Judge, if Counsel would like it a matter of record, I can go one step further. I made my client aware of this situation before I even undertook to represent him in this matter. The point came up after I had been retained to represent him. At that point in time, I interviewed him and advised him that I could no longer represent him on the Chicago Heights matter. I indicated if he desired for me to continue to represent him on the Chicago matter, that I anticipated no Chicago Heights Police Officers to be called. I feel I could, which he indicated he had no objection. Since that, I have withdrawn from the Chicago Heights matter.

ASSISTANT STATE'S ATTORNEY: Fine, Judge, so it is perfectly clear.

THE COURT: Mr. Washington, you have no objection to Counsel representing ...


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