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People v. Tessier

OPINION FILED MAY 9, 1984.

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

v.

NORMAN L. TESSIER, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Johnson County; the Hon. James R. Williamson, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE JONES DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

This is an appeal from the circuit court of Johnson County. A jury found the defendant guilty of burglary, felony theft, and misdemeanor theft, and the appeal is from the judgment rendered on the verdict.

On appeal, the defendant asserts (1) he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to counsel as required under Supreme Court Rule 401(a) (87 Ill.2d R. 401(a)), since he was silent throughout the court proceedings, (2) the trial court did not conduct an inquiry into his ability to conduct his own defense, (3) the trial court failed to hold a hearing on his competence to stand trial, and (4) the trial court focused on deterrence rather than rehabilitation when imposing sentence.

On March 28, 1982, the defendant was charged with entering John De's Chevrolet and Oldsmobile dealership in Vienna, Illinois, stealing a car, and then stealing a license plate from Harry Spiller for the stolen car.

On March 29, 1982, the defendant made his first court appearance, without counsel, before Judge Williamson, who read the charges to him. The defendant was then asked by the court:

"Q. Mr. Tessier, do you understand what I have read to you? Answer for the record.

A. (nods affirmatively)

Q. Let the record show that the defendant nodded his head affirmatively. I directed the defendant to answer verbally. The defendant is shaking his head that apparently he's not willing to answer affirmatively or answer in any respect."

The court then asked the arresting officer, Neal Watkins, if the defendant could speak. Officer Watkins said that he could. The court read the possible penalties for the crimes with which the defendant was charged and asked the defendant if he understood. Again, the defendant nodded in affirmance. The defendant was told of his rights and was then asked by the court:

"Q. Are you going to hire your own counsel, Mr. Tessier? Did you hear me? Are you going to hire your own lawyer?

A. (nods negatively) [sic]."

Thereupon, the court appointed public defender Mary Collina to represent the defendant.

On March 31, 1983, Judge Williamson held a preliminary hearing for the purpose of considering the public defender's motion to withdraw. Defendant was present. Mrs. Collina stated that defendant had informed her that he did not want an attorney, that he wanted to represent himself. Throughout this hearing the defendant refused to answer any questions and stood mute. After hearing the arresting officer tell of defendant's ability to speak, the court permitted the public defender to withdraw as defendant's attorney.

At a preliminary hearing the court heard evidence from the State, but the defendant did not cross-examine, offered no witnesses and again remained mute. Probable cause was found. When defendant was asked how he pleaded to the ...


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