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People v. Rios

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division

November 26, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DON JUAN RIOS, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County No. 99 CR 12385 Honorable Thomas M. Tucker, Judge Presiding.

JUSTICE PIERCE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Harris and Simon concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

PIERCE JUSTICE

¶ 1 Defendant Don Juan Rios appeals from the denial of his petition for habeas corpus relief. Defendant argues that the circuit court erred in finding that it lacked jurisdiction to grant relief under the Habeas Corpus Act (Act) (735 ILCS 5/10-124 (West 2012)), where defendant asserted that his judgment of conviction was void because the judge who presided over his bench trial lacked the constitutional mandated qualifications to be a judge. For the following reasons, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Defendant was charged with two counts of first degree murder, three counts of attempted first degree murder, and two counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm after he shot into a vehicle containing four passengers, killing one of them. On April 29, 2002, following a bench trial before then Judge Golniewicz, defendant was convicted of first degree murder and two counts of aggravated discharge arising out of events that occurred in May 1999. Shortly thereafter, the Judicial Inquiry Board (JIB) filed a complaint against the trial judge, who was then placed on placed on administrative leave. Defendant was later sentenced by Judge Daniel Kelly to 45 years' imprisonment for first degree murder and two concurrent 10-years terms of imprisonment for aggravated discharge. People v. Rios, No. 1-04-0058 (Jan. 31, 2006) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). By order entered November 15, 2004, the JIB found, inter alia, that Golniewicz violated certain rules of judicial conduct in that he used deception to get elected to his judicial office and thereafter continued to violate residency requirements for sitting judges as set forth in relevant sections of the Election Code, which warranted his removal from office. In re Golniewicz, Ill. Ct. Comm'n, No. 02 CC 1 (Nov.15, 2004).

¶ 4 Among the issues defendant raised on direct appeal, defendant alleged that his jury waiver was involuntary because Golniewicz failed to disclose that he was the subject of a JIB investigation at the time of defendant's trial. We rejected defendant's arguments and affirmed his conviction. Rios, slip op. at 30-33.

¶ 5 Thereafter, defendant filed a postconviction petition alleging that Golniewicz may have been biased because he was the subject of a JIB investigation and that the trial court erred in prohibiting him from conducting a posttrial investigation to uncover the potential bias. Defendant's petition was summarily dismissed by the trial court and this court affirmed. People v. Rios, No. 1-07-1668 (December 22, 2008) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

¶ 6 Defendant's successive postconviction petition was also summarily dismissed by the trial court. On appeal, defendant's counsel and the State filed an agreed motion for summary disposition asking this court to award defendant an additional 11 days of presentence credit. We granted the motion.

¶ 7 On December 21, 2011, defendant filed a pro se petition for habeas corpus relief that is the subject of the instant appeal. In the petition, defendant argued that his conviction and sentence are void because Golniewicz falsified his judicial application and fraudulently obtained his judgeship. Therefore, defendant argued, Golniewicz lacked the judicial authority to preside over his trial. Defendants attached an order issued by the Illinois Courts Commission removing Golniewicz from judicial office. In re Golniewicz, Ill. Ct. Comm'n, No. 02 CC 1 (Nov. 15, 2004). After an extensive discussion of the evidence and testimony presented, the Commission concluded that Golniewicz

"consistently engaged in a pattern of behavior that violated the judicial canons, demeaned the integrity of the judiciary, and brought the judicial office into disrepute. Respondent used deception to get elected. He was living in Riverside, but used his parents' address to run for election because he had a much greater chance of winning an election using that address. Respondent actively concealed his true permanent abode. Once elected, respondent continued to violate state residency law by residing outside of the subcircuit from which he was elected." Id. at 31.

The trial court denied defendant's petition for habeas corpus relief finding that it lacked the necessary jurisdiction. It is from this order that defendant now appeals.

¶ 8 ANALYSIS

ΒΆ 9 Defendant argues that the trial court erred in finding that it lacked jurisdiction under the Act, where he asserted that his judgment of conviction was void because the judicial officer who presided over his bench trial ...


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