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People v. Little

January 05, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
V.
PRIEST D. LITTLE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 96--CF--1915 Honorable Victoria A. Rossetti, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rapp

A jury found defendant, Priest D. Little, guilty of aggravated unlawful restraint (720 ILCS 5/10--3.1(a) (West 1998)), unlawful use of weapons (720 ILCS 5/24--1(a)(4) (West 1998)), armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18--2(a) (West 1998)), armed violence (720 ILCS 5/33A--2 (West 1998)), and home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12--11(a)(1) (West 1998)). The trial court entered judgment on only the armed violence conviction and sentenced defendant to 22 years' imprisonment. On appeal, this court concluded that defendant's penalty for armed violence violated the proportionate penalties clause of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §11). We vacated defendant's conviction of armed violence and remanded the cause for resentencing on the home invasion conviction. People v. Little, No. 2--97--0082 (1999) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). On remand, defendant was sentenced to 16 years' imprisonment, and he appeals again, arguing that the sentence is excessive.

Defendant concedes that the trial judge admonished him in accordance with Supreme Court Rule 605(a) (145 Ill. 2d R. 605(a)). However, he claims that his procedural due process rights were violated when the trial judge failed to inform him of the need to file a post-sentencing motion to preserve his sentencing challenge. Defendant also argues that trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to file a written post-sentencing motion and by failing to promptly inform the trial court of the two co-defendants' sentences. We affirm defendant's home invasion conviction and sentence.

At the resentencing hearing, the trial court determined that, although defendant's attitude and behavior had improved since he was first sentenced, the seriousness of the offense required a 16-year prison term. Defense counsel argued that the sentence was excessive because a co-defendant, Eiko Jones, had been sentenced to only a 13-year term. Rather than responding to counsel's additional argument, the trial court admonished defendant of his appeal rights under Rule 605(a). Defendant failed to file a post-sentencing motion challenging his sentence, and he appeals again.

Defendant initially contends that the trial court was required on remand to admonish him that he would waive his right to challenge his sentence as excessive if he failed to file a written post-sentencing motion. Section 5--8--1(c) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code) defines the procedure for challenging a sentence before appealing and provides in relevant part:

"(c) A motion to reduce a sentence may be made, or the court may reduce a sentence without motion, within 30 days after the sentence is imposed. A defendant's challenge to the correctness of a sentence or to any aspect of the sentencing hearing shall be made by a written motion filed within 30 days following the imposition of sentence. However, the court may not increase a sentence once it is imposed." (Emphasis added.) 730 ILCS 5/5--8--1(c) (West 1998).

The purpose of section 5--8--1(c) is to require a defendant to raise in the trial court all sentencing issues to preserve those issues for appellate review. People v. Reed, 177 Ill. 2d 389, 393 (1997). Therefore, a defendant waives his claim that his sentence is excessive when he fails to raise the issue in a written post-sentencing motion. Reed, 177 Ill. 2d at 395; People v. Bailey, 311 Ill. App. 3d 265, 270 (2000).

Defendant argues that the trial court's failure to advise him of the requirements of section 5--8--1(c) entitles him to a remand for the opportunity to file a written motion challenging the sentence. After a defendant is found guilty, Rule 605(a) requires the trial court to advise him of his appeal rights. 145 Ill. 2d R. 605(a). Rule 605(a) provides:

"(a) On Judgment and Sentence After Plea of Not Guilty. In all cases in which the defendant is found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment, probation or conditional discharge, periodic imprisonment, or to pay a fine, or in which a sentence of probation or conditional discharge has been revoked or the conditions attached to such a sentence have been modified, except in cases in which the judgment and sentence are entered on a plea of guilty, the trial court shall, at the time of imposing sentence or modifying the conditions of the sentence, advise the defendant of his right to appeal, of his right to request the clerk to prepare and file a notice of appeal, and of his right, if indigent, to be furnished, without cost to him, with a transcript of the proceedings at his trial or hearing, and, in cases in which the defendant has been convicted of a felony or a Class A misdemeanor or convicted of a lesser offense and sentenced to imprisonment, periodic imprisonment, or to probation or conditional discharge conditioned upon periodic imprisonment, or in which a sentence of probation or conditional discharge has been revoked or the conditions attached to such a sentence have been modified and a sentence or condition of imprisonment or periodic imprisonment imposed, of his right to have counsel appointed on appeal. The trial court shall also advise him that his right to appeal will be preserved only if a notice of appeal is filed in the trial court within 30 days from the date of the sentence." 145 Ill. 2d R. 605(a).

Defendant acknowledges that Rule 605(a) does not direct trial judges to advise defendants of the requirements of section 5--8--1(c). Nevertheless, defendant relies on recent cases involving Rule 605(b) (145 Ill. 2d R. 605(b)) in arguing that fundamental fairness requires a remand here. Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (145 Ill. 2d R. 604(d)) defines the procedure a defendant must follow when appealing from a judgment entered on a guilty plea, and Rule 605(b) provides the admonitions the trial judge must give a defendant when imposing a sentence on the guilty plea. Rule 605(b) complements Rule 604(d) and serves as a corollary to the requirements of Rule 604(d). People v. Jamison, 181 Ill. 2d 24, 27 (1998).

Strict compliance with Rule 604(d) is a condition precedent to a defendant's appeal, and a defendant waives issues regarding his guilty plea if he does not follow the rule. Jamison, 181 Ill. 2d at 28. Therefore, fundamental fairness entitles a defendant to a remand for the proper admonitions under Rule 605(b) if the trial court (1) fails to deliver the admonitions (Jamison, 181 Ill. 2d at 29-30) or (2) delivers inaccurate admonitions (People v. Winston, 316 Ill. App. 3d 618, 620 (2000); People v. Doguet, 307 Ill. App. 3d 1, 6-7 (1999)).

After a defendant pleads guilty, Rule 605(b) requires the trial court to admonish him of the need to file a written motion before appealing. In some cases, the defendant is incorrectly told that he will preserve his appeal rights by filing only a motion to reconsider the sentence, when, in fact, Rule 604(d) requires him to move both to reconsider the sentence and to withdraw the negotiated guilty plea and vacate the judgment. This court routinely grants a remand for proper Rule 605(b) admonitions in those instances where the defendant has been misled about which type of motion Rule 604(d) requires. See, e.g., Doguet, 307 Ill. App. 3d at 6-7.

Defendant asks us to create a similar "admonition exception" to the Reed waiver rule for defendants who are not admonished of the written motion requirement of section 5--8--1(c) of the Code. We conclude that such an exception is unnecessary. In this case, defendant was neither told that a written post-sentencing motion was unnecessary nor misled about which type of motion was required. The trial court fully complied with Rule 605(a) and did not mention the motion requirement only because it is not included in the rule.

When the language of a supreme court rule is plain and unambiguous, courts should not read into the rule exceptions, limitations, or other conditions. Jamison, 181 Ill. 2d at 29. Because the plain language of Rule 605(a) does not require a trial court to advise the defendant of the written motion requirement ...


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