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The People of the State of Illinois v. Falanzo M. Hixson

January 23, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
FALANZO M. HIXSON,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from Circuit Court of Champaign County No. 99CF1850 Honorable Jeffrey B. Ford, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Knecht

Unpublished opinion

JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Appleton and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In August 2010, the trial court denied defendant's pro se post-conviction petition and found defendant in direct criminal contempt of court for mailing to the circuit court an order which "on its face purports to have been signed by this Court as Presiding Justice." Additionally, the court sentenced defendant-for the direct criminal contempt-to six months in the Champaign County correctional center to run consecutive to his 55-year sentence for first degree murder.

¶ 2 Defendant appeals the criminal contempt order, arguing the trial court erred by finding him in direct criminal contempt because the evidence failed to establish he submitted the proposed order with a contemptuous state of mind.

¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 4 In April 2000, a jury found defendant guilty of first degree murder. In July 2000, the trial court sentenced him to 55 years' imprisonment. Defendant appealed his conviction and sentence, and this court affirmed. People v. Hixson, No. 4-00-0718 (Dec. 5, 2002) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

¶ 5 In April 2004, defendant filed a pro se post-conviction petition, arguing he received ineffective assistance of counsel for failure to (1) call alibi witnesses; (2) impeach Andre Gordon, one of the State's witnesses; and (3) file a post-sentencing motion. Defendant also alleged he received ineffective assistance from appellate counsel for failing to include in his direct appeal those instances of trial court's ineffectiveness apparent from the record. In June 2004, the trial court dismissed defendant's pro se petition as frivolous and patently without merit. Defendant appealed the dismissal of his pro se petition, and this court affirmed. People v. Hixson, No. 4-04-0642 (May 3, 2006) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

¶ 6 In July 2010, defendant filed a pro se "Petition for Injunctive Relief," arguing he was statutorily entitled to receive day-for-day good-conduct credit against his sentence and requesting the trial court enjoin the State from applying the reenacted truth-in-sentencing legislation to his 55-year sentence. Attached to defendant's pro se petition was an order enjoining application of the truth-in-sentencing statute and applying "the 50% sentencing to [d]efendant's 55 year sentence." The name "Jeffrey B. Ford" was typed on the signature line of the order, which appeared above the words "Presiding Justice."

¶ 7 In August 2010, the trial court entered an order denying defendant's pro se petition. Additionally, the court entered a second order finding defendant in direct criminal contempt of court for mailing to the circuit clerk an order which "on its face purports to have been signed by this Court as Presiding Justice." The court stated the following regarding defendant's attached order:

"This Order, attached, has not been entered by this Court, but to an observer, could be seen as a copy of one that was entered. The said Order purports to shorten Defendant's sentence by 50% and release him from the Illinois Department of Corrections at a time when he should be serving his sentence. This Order was prepared and sent to the Circuit Clerk of Champaign with the other documentation stated above to be filed in Defendant's court file.

Defendant's actions, if not caught by this Court, would hinder the administration of justice and put the Court in disrepute."

The court sentenced defendant to six months in the Champaign County correctional center to be served consecutively to his 55-year sentence and ordered him transferred to the correctional ...


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