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People v. Fields

June 28, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
GREGORY FIELDS, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 94 CR 7911. Honorable Lon Shultz, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Hall.

MODIFIED OPINION UPON DENIAL OF REHEARING

The defendant, Gregory Fields, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County dismissing his petition for relief pursuant to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (the Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 1998)). The circuit court dismissed the petition as frivolous and patently without merit.

The defendant appeals the dismissal of his petition, raising the following issues: (1) whether the petition set forth sufficient facts upon which to base a meritorious claim of ineffective assistance of counsel; (2) whether the defendant's extended-term sentence is unconstitutional under the United States Supreme Court's decision in Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466, 147 L. Ed. 2d 435, 120 S. Ct. 2348 (2000); and (3) whether the provision of the Act permitting the summary dismissal of the defendant's petition is unconstitutional since it was enacted in violation of the single subject rule.

Procedural History

The defendant was indicted and charged with three counts of first degree murder and one count each of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit first degree murder and residential burglary.

Following a fitness hearing on March 26, 1996, Judge Schultz found the defendant unfit to stand trial. In his March 6, 1996, report to the trial court, Dr. Albert H. Stipes stated that the defendant had marginal contact with reality, showed evidence of a severe depressed mood, suffered from auditory hallucinations and was suicidal. At the defendant's fitness hearing, Dr. Stipes testified that the defendant was receiving Tegritol and Dilantin for epilepsy and Haldol, a psychotropic medication, for his psychiatric condition. The defendant was remanded to the Elgin Mental Health Center, where he was diagnosed with a schizoaffective disorder with depressed features.

On June 13, 1996, the staff at Elgin reported that the defendant had been restored to fitness. In the report prepared by the Elgin staff, Dr. Carreria diagnosed the defendant as malingering and suffering from polysubstance abuse and an anti-social personality disorder.

On July 3, 1996, a second fitness hearing was held. After reviewing his previous reports, the reports from Elgin and interviewing the defendant, Dr. Stipes concluded that the defendant was currently fit for trial and needed no medication. Judge Schultz found the defendant fit to stand trial.

On October 16 and 23, 1996, Judge Brady conducted a hearing on the defendant's motion to suppress his confession. The defendant maintained that his confession was not voluntary because he was suffering from an overdose of asthma medication and that police refused to provide him with medical treatment until he confessed. Judge Brady denied the motion to suppress.

On January 29, 1997, the defendant pleaded guilty to first degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, armed robbery and residential burglary. Judge Brady denied the State's request to find the defendant eligible for the death penalty. Judge Brady then sentenced the defendant to an extended term of 75 years' imprisonment in the Department of Corrections. Judge Brady admonished the defendant that he had 30 days within which to withdraw his guilty plea.

On September 2, 1999, the defendant filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and vacate his sentence. The defendant alleged that his guilty plea was not voluntary because he was ingesting psychotropic medication at the time he pleaded guilty and could not understand the proceedings. The defendant further alleged that his attorney was aware that he was heavily medicated and could not assist with his defense but still allowed him to plead guilty. Finally, the defendant alleged that he had received ineffective assistance of counsel because his attorney failed to present any evidence to the trial court concerning his psychiatric condition and failed to advise the court that the defendant was taking psychotropic medication during the trial proceedings and his guilty plea.

While noting that the motion was untimely filed and did not comply with Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (188 Ill. 2d R. 604(d)), Judge Schultz reviewed the merits of the motion and denied it. The defendant did not appeal from the denial of his motion to withdraw his guilty plea.

On November 22, 1999, the defendant filed a pro se post-conviction petition. In his petition, the defendant alleged that his trial counsel coerced him into pleading guilty and that he was heavily medicated at the time of the plea. Judge Schultz dismissed the petition as frivolous and patently without merit. The defendant then filed this timely appeal.

ANALYSIS

I. Whether the Defendant Set Forth the Gist of a Claim of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

A. Standard of Review

We review the dismissal of a post-conviction petition de novo. People v. Coleman, 183 Ill. 2d 366, 388-89, 7 ...


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