The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rathje
Defendant, Glenn Wilson, appeals the trial court's dismissal of his post-conviction petition. Because defendant was sentenced to death for the underlying murder conviction, he appeals directly to this court. See 134 Ill. 2d R. 651(a).
A jury in the circuit court of McLean County convicted defendant of the armed robbery of the S&S Liquor Store in Bloomington and of three counts of murder. The same jury found defendant eligible for the death penalty. Defendant waived his right to a jury for the aggravation- mitigation phase of the death penalty hearing. The trial court found that there were no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude a sentence of death and sentenced defendant to death. Defendant appealed, and we affirmed his convictions and death sentence. People v. Wilson, 164 Ill. 2d 436 (1994).
Thereafter, defendant filed a timely pro se post-conviction petition. Subsequently, the trial court appointed counsel for defendant, and he filed an amended petition. Three of defendant's claims involve the assertion that his attorney was ineffective for failing to properly investigate defendant's psychological testimony. To pursue these claims, defendant sought funds to hire an expert. The trial court denied defendant's request for funds. The State moved to dismiss defendant's petition, and the trial court granted the State's motion.
Defendant appeals, arguing that (1) the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant's request for funds; (2) the trial court erred in dismissing defendant's petition; (3) defendant was denied the effective assistance of appellate counsel when counsel failed to argue that the State was precluded from seeking the death penalty; (4) the trial court arbitrarily and capriciously imposed a premature deadline for the filing of defendant's amended petition; and (5) this court should adopt a uniform test governing when an expert should be appointed during both trial and post-conviction proceedings.
Defendant alleges that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel when his attorney failed to investigate defendant's mental condition and to use the evidence he would have discovered (1) to support defendant's motion to suppress statements; (2) to present an insanity defense; and (3) as mitigation during defendant's sentencing hearing. To support these claims, defendant requested that the trial court appropriate funds to allow him to hire an expert. Defendant explained that his medical records and examinations by other experts reveal that he needs to be examined by a neuropsychiatrist.
In support of his motion, defendant attached medical records that include a notation that defendant should be evaluated for temporal lobe epilepsy "as a possible cause of rage attacks." Defendant also attached affidavits from Harry Gunn, a clinical psychologist, and Jonathan Hess, a clinical neuropsychologist. Gunn's affidavit states that "neuropsychological testing is highly recommended." Hess's affidavit states that, since childhood, defendant has suffered from a seizure disorder and that defendant has never been diagnosed or treated by a behavioral neurologist or neuropsychiatrist who is "educated in the psychiatric consequences of seizure disorders." Defendant's history reveals that violent behavior often follows one of his seizures. Based upon his examination of defendant, Hess believes that defendant suffers from "episodic discontrol," or rage attacks. A person suffering from a rage attack "would be unable to control his behavior or to conform his behavior to the requirements of the law." Finally, Hess states that, to properly diagnose defendant, "either a behavioral neurologist (who is also an epileptologist) or a neuropsychiatrist" will have to conduct a 24-hour ambulatory EEG.
Defendant therefore requested funding for an ambulatory EEG. Defendant's attorney averred that he had contacted Dr. Lyle Rossiter, Jr., who had agreed to perform an ambulatory EEG and to examine and evaluate defendant. The cost for the test, test interpretation, and evaluation of defendant totaled $3,786. The trial court denied defendant's motion to retain Dr. Rossiter. On appeal, defendant contends that the trial court abused its discretion in denying this motion.
Trial courts are permitted to exercise a great deal of discretion in resolving post-conviction petitions. People v. Wright, 149 Ill. 2d 36, 54 (1992). This is done to ensure that defendants are permitted an opportunity to advance claims of constitutional deprivation. Wright, 149 Ill. 2d at 54. Whether to allow a defendant's motion for the appointment of an expert in a post-conviction proceeding is a matter that lies within the trial court's discretion. People v. Hall, 157 Ill. 2d 324, 339 (1993), Wright, 149 Ill. 2d at 58. The key question to consider is whether the testimony would assist the court in deciding the question before it. Hall, 157 Ill. 2d at 339-40.
To decide that question here, we must consider the claims under which defendant's request for an expert arises. Defendant alleges that the expert is needed to allow him to demonstrate that his attorney was ineffective for failing to investigate defendant's mental condition. In particular, defendant contends that, had trial counsel properly investigated defendant's mental health, counsel could have (1) presented evidence during the hearing on defendant's motion to suppress to demonstrate that defendant's statements should have been suppressed; (2) presented an insanity defense; and (3) demonstrated during the sentencing hearing that a statutory mitigating factor was present.
To succeed in his claims that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel, defendant must allege facts to demonstrate that his attorney's representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsel's errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different. Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668, 687, 80 L. Ed. 2d 674, 693, 104 S. Ct. 2052, 2064 (1984). Because a defendant must satisfy both prongs of the test, the failure to satisfy either prong precludes a finding of ineffective assistance of counsel under Strickland. People v. Shaw, 186 Ill. 2d 301, 332 (1998).
We now address individually each of defendant's claims.
Defendant alleges that his mental problems, which include attention and short-term memory problems, "make it extremely doubtful that [defendant's] statements were made knowingly, understandingly, and voluntarily." Defendant contends that, had his trial counsel properly investigated defendant's mental history, counsel would have discovered evidence that would have supported the allegation that defendant was unable to knowingly and intelligently waive his Miranda rights.
Defendant contends that the reports from Hess and Gunn reveal mental problems affecting defendant's attention and thinking problems. He asserts that an examination by Dr. Rossiter is necessary to "establish the etiology" of defendant's mental problems. While both Hess and Gunn agree that Dr. Rossiter's report is necessary to reveal the cause of defendant's mental problems, neither asserts that this information is necessary to ascertain the effect of defendant's mental problems on his ability to waive his Miranda rights. Because defendant has failed to demonstrate that the etiology of his mental problems is necessary to demonstrate how those problems affect his ability to waive his Miranda rights, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying defendant's request for funding to investigate this claim.
Defendant argues that the evidence that Dr. Rossiter could provide would establish that he was prejudiced by defense counsel's failure to present an insanity defense. Before addressing this question, however, we turn our attention to whether defendant has pleaded sufficient facts to demonstrate that the actions of his trial counsel fell below an objective standard of reasonableness.
Strickland requires attorneys to render reasonably effective assistance that is within the range of competence demanded of attorneys in criminal cases. The standard is one of objective reasonableness, under "prevailing professional norms." Strickland, 466 U.S. at 687-88, 80 L. Ed. 2d at 693-94, 104 S. Ct. at 2064-65.
Here, defendant has failed to plead facts that demonstrate that his attorney's actions fell below an objective standard of reasonableness when the attorney failed to investigate and present an insanity defense. Defendant's alleges that his attorney knew that when defendant was first arrested on the weapons charge he tried to hang himself. Further, a mitigation report that trial counsel may or may not have seen before trial revealed that defendant suffered from epilepsy, was probably mildly retarded, and "could be suffering from [an] extreme mental or emotional disturbance." Defendant asserts that these facts are sufficient to have required trial counsel to investigate the possible existence of an insanity defense. We disagree.
Even if we accept defendant's unsupported contention that trial counsel was able to review the mitigation report before trial, we do not believe that the sum of the evidence available to trial counsel would have placed a reasonable attorney on notice that an insanity defense was a possibility. Except for his statements to the police, defendant has continually and steadfastly denied participating in the crime. Additionally, nothing in defendant's records provides any indication that his mental problems would meet the definition of legal insanity (see Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, par. 6-2(a) (explaining that a defendant is not criminally responsible for his conduct if "as a result of mental disease or mental defect, he lacks substantial capacity either to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or to conform his conduct to the requirements of law") (now codified, as amended, at 720 ILCS 5/6-2(a) (West 1998))). At best, the records available to counsel at the time of trial revealed that defendant is probably mildly retarded and that he suffers from epilepsy. We are simply unable to agree with defendant that this limited information, which in no way indicates that defendant was unable to appreciate the criminality of his conduct or unable to conform his conduct to the requirements of the law, was sufficient to require trial counsel to investigate the possibility of an insanity defense.
Because trial counsel's actions did not fall below an objective standard of reasonableness, we must reject defendant's argument that his attorney was ineffective. Moreover, because defendant's ineffective assistance claim fails, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in failing to appropriate funds for an expert to examine defendant to ...