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People v. Allen

June 26, 2001

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JO ANN ALLEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 97CF1662 Honorable Thomas J. Difanis, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook

Not Released For Publication

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
JO ANN ALLEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 97CF1662 Honorable Thomas J. Difanis, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Cook

Jo Ann Allen appeals the denial of her motion to withdraw guilty plea. Allen argues that she was coerced into pleading guilty when her attorney moved to withdraw from the case after she initially refused to accept a plea bargain. She also asserts that the trial court erred by accepting defense counsel's stipulation to the factual basis for her plea, rather than requiring the State to summarize the evidence that it would present to support the conviction if the case went to trial. We affirm.

 On March 17, 1998, Jo Ann Allen appeared in court on charges of driving while under the influence (DUI), aggravated battery, and resisting a peace officer. 625 ILCS 5/11-501 (West 1996); 720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(6), 31-1 (West 1996). Robert Waaler, her retained attorney, negotiated a plea bargain with the State's Attorney whereby she would plead guilty to resisting a peace officer and the other charges would be dismissed. At the hearing on March 17, the court read the charge of resisting a peace officer and asked Allen if she understood it. Allen replied, "I understand what you're saying," but she was shaking her head. When asked why she was shaking her head, Allen responded, "I did not push [the officer]. I was handcuffed." The following exchange then occurred:

"THE COURT: Well, sounds like we have a problem here, counsel. I can't take the plea under these circumstances.

MR. WAALER: And, at this point, your Honor, I would then--I would like to file a written motion to withdraw.

THE COURT: All right. What I'll do, Mr. Waaler, is continue this matter."

The matter was continued to the following day to hear Waaler's motion to withdraw. Allen was instructed to appear. Waaler and Allen had no further discussions regarding her case. On March 18, before the motion to withdraw was considered, Allen approached Waaler and indicated that she had reconsidered her decision and wanted to accept the plea bargain. The State's Attorney was reluctant to make the same offer rejected the day before but eventually agreed to do so. Allen then entered a negotiated guilty plea to the charge of resisting a peace officer. 720 ILCS 5/31-1 (West 1996).

The trial court, noting Allen's disagreement with the State's allegations on the previous day, reread the charge to her. Allen then indicated that she understood the charge and that her guilty plea was voluntary. Allen also indicated that her plea was not the result of promises, threats, or coercion. The court accepted Allen's plea and sentenced her to 12 months' conditional discharge.

On April 4, 1998, a different attorney filed an entry of appearance and a motion to withdraw Allen's guilty plea. The motion argued that Allen's plea was not knowing and voluntary and was entered pursuant to pressure from her counsel. The trial court conducted a hearing on the motion to withdraw. Allen and attorney Waaler testified at the hearing.

Allen testified that she had no interest in the plea bargain and was ready to go to court but felt that she was backed into a corner and had no other choice but to plead guilty because she had paid her attorney a substantial amount of money and he was "stepping down" on her by "not doing what she wanted." Allen stated that she was coerced because she had no job, no money, and felt like she had no other choice. Allen was then questioned why she told the court that she understood the rights she was giving up at that time. She stated that ...


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