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People v. Hughes

April 16, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
BILLY HUGHES, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Logan County Nos. 98CM384, 98DT78, 99CF72, Honorable David L. Coogan, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Turner

Released for publication April 18, 2002.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
BILLY HUGHES, JR., DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.

Appeal from Circuit Court of Logan County Nos. 98CM384, 98DT78, 99CF72, Honorable David L. Coogan, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Turner

PUBLISHED

 Defendant, Billy Hughes, Jr., appeals from a March 2001 order of the circuit court of Logan County denying his post-conviction petition. He asserts the trial court should have granted the petition because he did not receive effective assistance of counsel due to his trial counsel's failure to file a motion to reduce sentence. We affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

In April 1999, the State charged defendant with calculated criminal drug conspiracy (720 ILCS 570/405(b) (West 1998)), unlawful delivery of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/401(a)(2)(B) (West 1998) (text of section as amended by Pub. Act 90-674, §5, eff. January 1, 1999 (1998 Ill. Laws 3492, 3498-502))), unlawful possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402(a)(2)(B) (West 1998) (text of section as amended by Pub. Act 90-655, §162, eff. July 30, 1998 (1998 Ill. Laws 2123, 3033-37) and Pub. Act 90-674, §5, eff. January 1, 1999 (1998 Ill. Laws at 3498-502))), calculated criminal cannabis conspiracy (720 ILCS 550/9(b) (West 1998)), unlawful delivery- 1 - of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/5(d) (West 1998)), and unlawful possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(d) (West 1998)) for his role in an April 3, 1999, incident. The State also charged him with driving while under the influence (625 ILCS 5/11-501(a)(3) (West Supp. 1997)) and unlawful possession of cannabis (720 ILCS 550/4(a) (West 1998)) for his actions on May 26, 1998.

In July 1999, defendant and the State entered into a plea agreement, under which defendant pleaded guilty to unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and unlawful delivery of cannabis, and the State dismissed the other six charges. The plea was open as to sentencing. After an August 1999 hearing, the trial court sentenced defendant to 12 years' imprisonment for unlawful delivery of a controlled substance to run concurrent to 5 years' imprisonment for unlawful delivery of cannabis.

In July 2000, defendant filed a pro se post-conviction petition, asserting he was denied effective assistance of counsel during all proceedings. Defendant further asserted his counsel was ineffective because counsel (1) promised defendant he would receive a nine-year sentence and (2) never attempted to raise the entrapment defense. In August 2000, the trial court appointed the public defender to represent defendant on his post-conviction petition. In March 2001, the public defender filed a certification pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 651(c) (134 Ill. 2d R. 651(c)), stating he had examined defendant's case and made any necessary amendments to defendant's pro se petition.

In March 2001, the trial court held an evidentiary hearing on defendant's petition. At the hearing, defendant also asserted his trial counsel was ineffective because he failed to file a motion to reduce his sentence. Defendant testified that after his sentencing hearing, his trial counsel, Scott Sabin, told defendant he was going to file a motion for a sentence reduction that day. Defendant stated he had asked Sabin to file a motion to reduce sentence. Upon learning no motion was filed, defendant sent a letter dated December 3, 1999, to Sabin, asking why he did not file the motion. Sabin sent a letter dated January 17, 2000, to defendant in response.

Sabin's letter to defendant was admitted into evidence at the hearing. In the letter, Sabin stated he did not file the motion to reduce sentence. Sabin offered the following explanation:

"After carefully reviewing the provisions of your sentence, there appeared to be no good[-] faith basis for seeking your sentence reduction. There was no additional mitigating evidence which I could present to the court, nor any change in circumstances which ...


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