APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY. THE HONORABLE VINCENT BENTIVENGA JUDGE PRESIDING.
The Honorable Justice Gordon delivered the opinion of the court: Cousins, Jr., P.j., and McNULTY, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Gordon
JUSTICE GORDON delivered the opinion of the court:
The defendant-appellant Priscilla Evans was convicted of murder for the January 1986 killing of her husband. That conviction was reversed on appeal and her case remanded for a new trial. In her second prosecution, the defendant eventually pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
In that second prosecution the defendant retained a psychiatrist to render an opinion regarding her mental state at the time of the killing. Subsequently, she moved the circuit court pursuant to § 113-3(d) of Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 38, par. 113-3(d) now codified at 725 ILCS 5/113-3(d) (West 1992)) to order the Cook County treasurer to pay that psychiatrist's fee. The circuit court denied that motion, refusing to award any fees whatsoever. For the reasons set forth below, we reverse the circuit court's denial of the defendant's motion and remand for the purpose of determining a reasonable fee.
It was undisputed at the defendant's March 1987 trial that the defendant shot her husband to death on January 26, 1986. The facts showed that on the night of the shooting, the defendant's husband had become intoxicated. Immediately before the shooting he threatened the defendant and, as he took a step toward her, she shot him. There was no evidence that he was armed with a weapon at that time. The facts also showed that the defendant's husband regularly subjected her to severe physical and mental abuse. A jury convicted the defendant of murder and the circuit court entered judgment on that verdict. The court subsequently imposed a twenty year term of imprisonment.
The defendant appealed. Her conviction was reversed and the case remanded for a new trial because of improper jury instructions. (See People v. Evans (1989), 182 Ill. App. 3d 874, 538 N.E.2d 726, 131 Ill. Dec. 351.) The State then appealed the reversal of the defendant's conviction to the supreme court which affirmed the appellate court in the consolidated case of People v. Shields (1991), 143 Ill. 2d 435, 575 N.E.2d 538, 159 Ill. Dec. 40.
In preparation for her retrial, the defendant retained Dr. James L. Cavanaugh, Jr., a psychiatrist widely used as an expert witness in criminal trials, to provide expert testimony regarding her mental state on the night of the shooting. Dr. Cavanaugh began his examination of the defendant on November 8, 1991. After reviewing police reports, psychiatric records, and the defendant's trial testimony, he interviewed her and administered psychological tests. He subsequently issued a written report in which he opined that she suffered from a condition known as the battered woman syndrome on January 26, 1986 and therefore "acted in self defense" in shooting her husband. *fn1
At a March 18, 1992 status hearing in her second prosecution, the defendant moved the circuit court in writing, pursuant to § 113-3(d) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, for payment of Dr. Cavanaugh's fee "in the amount actually incurred, up to $8,250." This estimate was based on fifty hours of services at an hourly rate of $165. As of the date of the motion, Dr. Cavanaugh had rendered services in the amount of $7,989.
The defendant's memorandum in support of her motion averred that Dr. Cavanaugh's testimony would be crucial at trial because an expert opinion regarding her state of mind at the time of the shooting would be necessary in establishing a theory of self defense based on battered woman syndrome. It further averred that the defendant was indigent and consequently unable to pay his fee. The defendant appended to her motion an affidavit in which she attested to her indigence. The court reserved its ruling on the defendant's motion until the next scheduled status date, March 30, 1992.
On March 30, 1992, the court, without hearing argument, denied payment for any of Dr. Cavanaugh's fee:
"I'm going to deny your motion here seeking $8,250.00 for Dr. Cavanaugh.
Basically for basically [sic ] one week's work, I think the amount of money is excessive. I think the hours are padded. I think Dr. Cavanaugh, ...