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03/23/88 the People of the State of v. Walter Stewart

March 23, 1988





528 N.E.2d 631, 123 Ill. 2d 368, 123 Ill. Dec. 927 1988.IL.397

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Stephen A. Schiller, Judge, presiding.


JUSTICE RYAN delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. JUSTICE CLARK, specially Concurring.


The defendant, Walter Stewart, brings this appeal from a dismissal of his petition for post-conviction relief without an evidentiary hearing in the circuit court of Cook County. At his original trial, the defendant entered pleas of guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder and armed robbery. After the pleas were accepted and judgments were entered, the prosecution sought the death penalty. Following a bench sentencing hearing, the trial Judge sentenced the defendant to death. A 30-year sentence for the attempted murder and armed robbery was also imposed. A post-trial motion to withdraw the guilty pleas and vacate the convictions was denied.

On direct appeal, this court affirmed the convictions and sentences. (People v. Stewart (1984), 101 Ill. 2d 470.) A petition for rehearing in this court was denied, and the Supreme Court denied certiorari. Stewart v. Illinois (1984), 469 U.S. 920, 83 L. Ed. 2d 237, 105 S. Ct. 303.

The defendant then filed a petition seeking relief under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 38, par. 122-1 et seq.). The circuit court dismissed the petition without an evidentiary hearing, and a direct appeal to this court followed. 107 Ill. 2d R. 651.

A post-conviction proceeding is not one in which a defendant's guilt or innocence is determined, but rather is limited to consideration of constitutional issues which have not previously been reviewed. (People v. Gaines (1984), 105 Ill. 2d 79.) Thus, the facts relating to the underlying offenses and prior proceedings will be set forth only as they are relevant to the issues presented.

The scope of post-conviction review is limited by the doctrines of res judicata and waiver. In essence, post-conviction proceedings are limited to issues which have not been, and could not have been, previously adjudicated. Put another way, all issues actually decided on direct appeal are res judicata, and all those which could have been presented but were not are deemed waived. (People v. Gaines (1984), 105 Ill. 2d 79, 88-89; People v. French (1970), 46 Ill. 2d 104, 107.) We find that several of the issues raised by the petitioner are barred by these doctrines.

The defendant's first assertion is that his guilty plea was involuntary in that, at the time of the plea, he did not understand the nature of the charges to which he was pleading guilty, he did not understand that he had a right to persist in a not-guilty plea, and his decision to plead guilty was the product of psychological pressure and confusion.

The detailed circumstances surrounding the plea are described in our opinion disposing of the defendant's direct appeal and need not be reiterated here. (People v. Stewart (1984), 101 Ill. 2d 470.) In that opinion, we rejected the claim that the guilty plea proceedings did not satisfy the requirements of due process or of our Rule 402 (107 Ill. 2d R. 402), because the defendant was adequately admonished by the trial Judge. (101 Ill. 2d 470, 483-87.) Thus, the voluntariness issue concerning the guilty plea is barred. People v. Kubat (1986), 114 Ill. 2d 424; People v. Jones (1985), 109 Ill. 2d 19.

The defendant submits, however, that res judicata should not apply because the instant claim is distinguishable from the claim raised on direct appeal. His argument runs as follows. On direct appeal, he did not raise the issue of the actual involuntariness of his guilty plea. Rather, he challenged only the sufficiency of the record of the plea proceeding to meet the requirements of Boykin v. Alabama (1969), 395 U.S. 238, 23 L. Ed. 2d 274, 89 S. Ct. 1709. Further, the Boykin issue concerned only the on-the-record proceedings in the trial court. The issue raised here at the post-conviction stage, defendant argues, relates to off-the-record matters such as the defendant's actual, subjective knowledge, understanding and emotional state. The defendant concludes that these matters, being off-the-record, could not have been raised on direct appeal, and hence are not res judicata.

Whatever the merits of the defendant's res judicata analysis may be, his claim of involuntariness must fail for another fundamental reason. He failed to include this argument in his motion to vacate his guilty plea, and therefore the issue has been waived, regardless of whether res judicata is involved.

Supreme Court Rule 604(d), which relates to appeals from judgments entered upon pleas of guilty, provides, in pertinent part:

"(d) Appeal by Defendant from a Judgment Entered upon a Plea of Guilty. No appeal from a judgment entered upon a plea of guilty shall be taken unless the defendant, within 30 days of the date on which sentence is imposed, files in the trial court a motion to withdraw his plea of guilty and vacate the judgment. The motion shall be in writing and shall state the grounds therefor. When the motion is based on facts that do not appear of record it shall be supported by affidavit. . . . Upon appeal any issue not raised by the defendant in the motion to withdraw the plea of guilty and vacate the judgment shall be deemed waived." (Emphasis added.) 107 Ill. 2d R. 604(d).

Thus, by its explicit terms, Rule 604(d) states that issues not preserved in a motion to vacate a guilty plea are waived. The waiver rule applies to post-conviction proceedings as well as to appeals. (People v. Ward (1971), 48 Ill. 2d 117, 120-21.) Also, the rule specifically allows for introduction of ...

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