Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign No. 01CF1011 Honorable John G. Townsend, Judge Presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Myerscough
Defendant, Troi Starks, appeals from a final judgment of conviction on his plea of guilty to one count of armed robbery and sentence of 20 years in prison. We affirm as modified and remand with directions.
On October 4, 2001, defendant pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery with a dangerous weapon (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(2) (West 2000)) as part of an open plea agreement with the State. The State agreed to dismiss six other counts in the indictment. On November 5, 2001, the trial court sentenced defendant to 20 years in the Department of Corrections (DOC).
Defendant later filed a notice of appeal and sent a letter to the trial judge alleging ineffective assistance of trial counsel and seeking a sentence reduction. He alleged that his trial counsel, the public defender, had told defendant that the sentence would be 10 to 15 years rather than 20 years and that no witnesses that defendant wanted to testify were called at the sentencing hearing.
On December 18, 2001, the trial court held a hearing as a result of that letter and granted the public defender's motion to withdraw based upon defendant's allegation of ineffective assistance of counsel. New counsel was appointed, and on February 8, 2002, defendant filed a motion to withdraw plea. On August 12, 2002, defendant's new counsel filed a "[c]ertificate of [c]compliance with Rule 604(d)," which stated:
"I [,] the undersigned attorney [,] hereby certify that I have consulted by mail and in person to learn his contentions of error and I have been furnished a copy of the transcripts of the proceedings of the plea hearing and the sentencing of the defendant and the file in this matter. I have filed the appropriate [m]otion to [w]ithdraw. Respectfully [s]ubmitted, Troi Starks By David N. Rumley [,] his attorney[.]"
The trial court denied defendant's motion to withdraw his plea or alternatively to reduce his sentence. This appeal follows.
A. The Record Shows Strict Compliance With the Certificate Requirement of Rule 604(d)
Supreme Court Rule 604(d) states:
"The defendant's attorney shall file with the trial court a certificate stating that the attorney has consulted with the defendant either by mail or in person to ascertain defendant's contentions of error in the sentence or the entry of the plea of guilty, has examined the trial court file and report of proceedings of the plea of guilty, and has made any amendments to the motion ...