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The People of the State of Illinois v. Sherrianne Remsik-Miller

March 8, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
SHERRIANNE REMSIK-MILLER, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County. No. 08-CF-2395 Honorable Thomas E. Mueller, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Burke

JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Bowman and Schostok concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 Following a bench trial, defendant, Sherrianne Remsik-Miller, was convicted of solicitation of murder for hire (720 ILCS 5/8-1.2(a) (West 2008)) and sentenced to 22 years in prison. Following the denial of her pro se motion for reconsideration of her sentence, defendant timely appealed. Defendant argues that the court erred in not inquiring into her pro se claim that her trial counsel was ineffective (see People v. Krankel, 102 Ill. 2d 181 (1984)). The issue is whether defendant's comment at the hearing on her motion-that defense counsel did not represent her "to his fullest ability during [her] trial"-amounted to an allegation of ineffective assistance such that it triggered the court's duty to inquire. For the reasons that follow, we remand for the limited purpose of allowing the trial court to conduct the necessary preliminary examination as to the factual basis of defendant's allegation.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Defendant was charged with solicitation of murder for hire (720 ILCS 5/8-1.2(a) (West 2008)) and solicitation of murder (720 ILCS 5/8-1.1(a) (West 2008)). Following a bench trial, the trial court found defendant guilty of solicitation of murder for hire and set the matter for sentencing.

¶ 4 Defense counsel and defendant each filed a posttrial motion. Defense counsel's motion asked for a judgment of not guilty or, in the alternative, a new trial. The trial court denied the motion. Defendant's pro se motion asked for a "new trial based on new evidence and/or witnesses not known/available for trial of June 7, 2010." Although defense counsel did not adopt defendant's pro se motion, he asked the trial court to consider it. Thereafter, the following colloquy took place:

"THE DEFENDANT: Your Honor, at the trial you said my intent was very clear by the tapes. And there are witnesses that are-can be available to show that that was not my intent. Other people that I had talked to being angry, just talking to and venting, people who knew me for more than three months. I would like the opportunity to at least have them speak before-

THE COURT: What would you have them testify to?

THE DEFENDANT: That I was angry. They knew the situation between my husband and myself. And that I was angry. And that I never would have gone through with anything.

THE COURT: They couldn't testify to that. They could testify-you could bring in 50 people, all of whom would say I know [defendant], I know she was angry at her husband.

They could not then go on to say what was going on in your mind, that's inadmissible evidence.

THE DEFENDANT: They could talk about things we had talked about, my friends and I.

THE COURT: No, that would be inadmissible hearsay. I'm just telling you the law. THE DEFENDANT: I'm just saying I-okay. [DEFENSE COUNSEL]: ...


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