Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 05-CF-73 Honorable Annette A. Eckert, Judge, presiding.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Welch
Rule 23 order filed 2012 IL App (5th) 100302
Motion to publish granted
JUSTICE WELCH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Goldenhersh and Chapman concurred in the judgment and opinion.
¶ 1 This case comes before us on the denial of the defendant's motion to withdraw his negotiated plea of guilty and the circuit court's refusal to rule on the defendant's oral motion to reconsider his sentence. On appeal, the defendant argues that the certification requirement of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (eff. July 1, 2006) was not met and that the circuit court of St. Clair County erred in refusing to rule on his motion to reconsider his sentence. For the reasons that follow, we vacate the order denying the motion to withdraw the guilty plea and remand for compliance with the certification requirement of Rule 604(d).
¶ 2 On January 14, 2005, the defendant was charged with one count of first-degree murder in violation of section 9-1(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 2004)). The charge alleged that the defendant shot Ronald Curtis in the chest with a gun with the intent to kill on December 29, 2004. An indictment charging the same offense was filed on February 4, 2005.
¶ 3 The State filed a notice of intent to seek an enhanced sentence of natural-life imprisonment pursuant to section 5-8-1(a)(1) of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(1) (West 2004)). Subsequently, the defendant entered into a negotiated plea of guilty to the charge of murder in the first degree. In exchange for the defendant's guilty plea, the State withdrew its notice of intent to seek an enhanced sentence and capped its requested sentence at 55 years' imprisonment, 5 years below the maximum possible sentence. The court sentenced the defendant to 55 years' imprisonment.
¶ 4 The defendant then filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea, arguing that his plea was not free and voluntary, the court was biased against him, and his sentence had been predetermined. The motion was denied and the defendant appealed. This court remanded for compliance with the certification requirement of Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (eff. July 1, 2006). People v. Richard, No. 5-07-0004 (2008) (unpublished summary order under Supreme Court Rule 23(c)(2)). The defendant was assisted by different counsel on remand.
¶ 5 On May 15, 2009, defense counsel filed an amended motion to withdraw the defendant's guilty plea along with a Rule 604(d) certificate of compliance. A second amended motion and certificate were filed on June 4, 2009, and a third amended motion and certificate were filed on March 24, 2010. The third amended certificate provided:
"2. That I have examined the entire record of the plea, sentencing, Motion to Withdraw Plea of Guilty and Appellate Court Decision.
3. That I have made any amendments in the Third Amended Motion to Withdraw Plea of Guilty and to the Amended Motion to Withdraw Plea of Guilty, filed pro-se, that are necessary for adequate presentation of Defendant's contentions.
3. [sic]That I have made any amendments to the Amended Motion to Withdraw Plea of Guilty, filed pro se, that are necessary for adequate presentation of Defendant's contentions.
4. That I consulted with Defendant by correspondence to him dated September 5, 2008, December 31, 2008, January 15, 2009, and April 29, 2009 to ascertain his contentions of deprivation of constitutional rights.
5. That I reviewed correspondence from Defendant dated September 30, 2008, and April 28, 2009 to ascertain his contentions of ...