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People v. Huff

January 29, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,
v.
SAMUEL HUFF, APPELLEE.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Miller

Docket No. 88852-Agenda 7-November 2000.

The defendant, Samuel Huff, was charged with several traffic-related offenses in the circuit court of Macoupin County. The trial judge dismissed the charges, finding a violation of the speedy-trial statute. The appellate court reversed, concluding that the defendant had not filed a valid demand for a speedy trial. No. 5-97-0562 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). On remand, the defendant moved to dismiss the charges on the ground that defense counsel was ineffective for having failed to submit a proper speedy-trial demand. The trial court agreed with the defendant and again dismissed the charges. The appellate court affirmed. 308 Ill. App. 3d 1046. We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal (177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)), and we now vacate the judgment of the appellate court and remand the cause to that court for further proceedings.

The defendant was charged on September 15, 1996, with driving under the influence of alcohol, failing to reduce speed to avoid an accident, and failing to wear a seat belt. The defendant posted his driver's license in lieu of bond. On October 15, 1996, defense counsel filed a document by which counsel entered his appearance in the matter and by which the defendant pleaded not guilty and demanded a speedy trial. The document stated:

"ENTRY OF APPEARANCE, PLEA OF NOT GUILTY, AND DEMAND FOR SPEEDY JURY TRIAL

Comes now Ted E. Barylske, and enters his appearance as attorney of record for the Defendant herein and enters a plea of Not Guilty on behalf of said Defendant.

The Defendant, by his attorney, further demands a jury trial of the above styled cause within 120 days from the date he was taken into custody.

In the event that the Defendant was not taken into custody or posts a bond and is released from custody at any point after his arrest in the above styled cause, whether prior or subsequent to the filing of this Demand, he further demands a jury trial of the above styled cause within 160 days from the date of this Demand."

The matter was originally scheduled for jury trial on February 19, 1997. On either February 13 or February 19, 1997, defense counsel made an oral motion for a continuance. The trial judge granted the motion and continued the matter to the "next jury." The next jury call was to begin May 5, 1997. The case was not set for trial until July 1997, however. On July 14, 1997, prior to trial, the defendant filed a motion for discharge, arguing that the State had failed to bring him to trial within the time prescribed by statute. After a hearing, the trial judge granted the defendant's motion, finding that the only delay attributable to the defendant began in February 1997, when he sought a continuance, and ended in May 1997, when the next jury call was set to begin. The judge concluded that the State had failed to bring the defendant to trial within the time limits set by statute.

The State moved for reconsideration, arguing, among other points, that the defendant had failed to cite the speedy-trial statute in his demand for a speedy trial, and that, under the appellate court's decision in People v. Ground, 257 Ill. App. 3d 956 (1994), the demand was ineffective. Ground had held that a demand for speedy trial, to be valid, must satisfy certain formal requirements, including the requirement that the demand cite the speedy-trial statute, section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/103-5 (West 1996)). The trial judge denied reconsideration, reasoning that the demand in this case was sufficient to apprise the State of the defendant's invocation of his statutory right.

The State appealed, and the appellate court reversed, finding that the defendant had not made a valid demand for a speedy trial. Relying on its previous decision in Ground, the appellate court concluded that the demand in this case was insufficient because it did not specifically cite section 103-5 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The court also noted that the defendant's demand was made in contingent terms. The appellate court remanded the cause for further proceedings. No. 5-97-0562 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

On remand, defense counsel again moved to dismiss the charges, but this time on grounds of ineffective assistance of counsel. Defense counsel maintained that his failure to file a valid demand for speedy trial constituted ineffective assistance. The trial judge agreed with the defendant and dismissed the charges. The State filed a motion for reconsideration, arguing that the defendant's argument was premature and that ineffective assistance of counsel was not a basis on which charges could be dismissed prior to trial. The trial judge denied the State's motion.

The State appealed, and the appellate court affirmed. 308 Ill. App. 3d 1046. A majority of the court concluded that counsel was ineffective for having failed to submit an effective demand for trial. In addition, the majority questioned its earlier decision that the defendant's speedy-trial demand was not valid. The majority suggested that the demand made in this case was sufficient, even though it did not expressly cite the speedy-trial statute, as Ground required. The dissenting justice believed that the defendant's demand for a speedy trial was insufficient under Ground and, further, that the defendant's claim of ineffective assistance of counsel was premature. 308 Ill. App. 3d at 1051-53 (Steigmann, J., dissenting). We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal (177 Ill. 2d R. 315(a)), and we now vacate the judgment of the appellate court and remand the cause to that court for further proceedings.

We may affirm the result below on any basis that is supported by the record. In re Application of the Cook County Treasurer, 185 Ill. 2d 428, 436 (1998). Rather than consider whether counsel was ineffective for failing to file an effective demand for a speedy trial, we believe instead that counsel's initial demand for trial was valid and effective, and was sufficient to constitute a demand for a speedy trial under the provisions of the statute. We note that the law of the case doctrine does not bar our consideration of this issue. Relph v. Board of Education of DePue Unit School District No. 103, 84 Ill. 2d 436, 442 (1981). This is our first opportunity to address the issue in this case, and the law of the case doctrine does not limit our review here.

A defendant charged with an offense has both a constitutional and a statutory right to a speedy trial. U.S. Const., amends VI, XIV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §8; 725 ILCS 5/103-5 (West 1996). The constitutional and statutory provisions address similar concerns, but they are not necessarily coextensive in their protections. People v. Garrett, 136 Ill. 2d 318, 323 (1990); People v. Richards, 81 Ill. 2d 454, 459 (1980). Only the statutory ...


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