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People v. Miraglia

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

December 2, 2013

KATHY MIRAGLIA, Defendant-Appellant.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 04-CR-15651 Honorable Gilbert J. Grossi, Judge Presiding.

JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Cunningham and Delort concurred in the judgment.



¶ 1 The defendant, Kathy Miraglia, appeals from the circuit court order which both denied her a retrospective jury determination on the question of her fitness to stand trial and which found her fit to stand trial. For the following reasons, we affirm.

¶ 2 Following a bench trial in 2006, the defendant was convicted of two counts of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-13(A)(4) (West 2004)) and sentenced to two consecutive four-year terms of imprisonment. The evidence adduced at trial revealed the following facts. In 2003, the defendant, a clinical psychologist at Hillside Academy High School, held group counseling sessions which included J.B., a 16-year old male junior at the school. J.B. testified that he began to meet with the defendant in private sessions and that their conversations became "deeper." They eventually exchanged phone numbers and the conversations became sexual in nature. Thereafter, the defendant met with J.B. outside of school, and they engaged in sexual intercourse. On several occasions, the defendant bought liquor for J.B. and gave him money to buy marijuana, which they shared. Mike Miraglia, the defendant's husband, testified that on three separate occasions, he discovered letters written by the defendant to J.B., detailing the couple's drug and alcohol use and their sexual relationship.

¶ 3 Prior to trial, the State raised the question of the defendant's fitness to stand trial by informing the court that records indicated that the defendant was taking antidepressant medication and had checked herself into a mental health facility before her arrest in June 2004. Defense counsel requested a hearing outside of the defendant's presence to discuss the issue of her fitness to stand trial. The court expressed its reservations, but granted counsel's request and ordered the courtroom cleared. Defense counsel informed the court that the defendant had previously attempted suicide and had been hospitalized. He confirmed that she had been taking antidepressant medication, but could not verify the specific medication. The court noted that it had not developed any bona fide doubt concerning the defendant's fitness, but opined that defense counsel was better situated to make such a judgment and elicited his opinion. After counsel concurred with the court's assessment, the court concluded that was "all we have to go on, " and the matter proceeded to trial without a fitness hearing.

¶ 4 On direct appeal, the defendant argued, in relevant part, that she was denied her right to be present during a critical stage of the trial because the court discussed the issue of her fitness outside of her presence. This court reviewed the issue, finding that a proceeding at which a defendant's fitness to stand trial is discussed is a critical stage for purposes of a defendant's right to be present. People v. Miraglia, No. 1-06-2654 (May 20, 2008) (unpublished order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 23). We concluded that the trial court erred in excluding the defendant from the proceeding and remanded "the matter to the trial court for a retrospective fitness hearing." Id. We held that, if the trial court determined that the defendant was unfit for trial, her convictions should be vacated and the court should conduct further proceedings pursuant to section 104-10 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/104-10 (West 2004)). Id. We further held that, if the trial court determined that the defendant was fit, her convictions and sentences shall stand. Id.

¶ 5 On remand, the matter was returned to Judge Grossi, the trial judge in Maywood who presided over the defendant's trial. The defendant requested that a jury be impaneled for purposes of retrospectively determining her fitness to stand trial. Thereafter, the matter was transferred to the criminal courthouse in Chicago where jury trials on fitness are conducted. On April 12, 2011, the State moved to strike the defendant's request for a jury determination on the issue of her fitness, asserting that she was not entitled to a jury because the proceeding was to take place after trial and after her convictions were entered of record.

¶ 6 On May 9, 2011, Judge Mary Brosnahan granted the State's motion, finding that the facts of the case did not present a scenario in which the defendant requested a jury determination of her fitness hearing prior to trial. Rather, the court determined that, under the facts presented here, the defendant was not entitled to a jury trial on the issue of her fitness as the issue of the defendant's fitness was first raised after her trial had begun. See People v. Melka, 319 Ill.App.3d 431, 744 N.E.2d 290 (2000). The matter was then transferred back to Judge Grossi's courtroom in Maywood for a non-jury determination of the defendant's fitness.

¶ 7 On August 3, 2011, the fitness hearing proceeded before Judge Grossi. Dr. Christofer Cooper, a forensic psychologist, testified that he received the defendant's medical records, police reports, and transcripts of some of the trial court proceedings, including the defendant's statement in allocution. He also met with the defendant on September 22, 2008, for over two hours to evaluate her present fitness. Dr. Cooper explained that to evaluate a defendant's retrospective fitness, he considers the defendant's current fitness and assesses whether there have been any significant changes or differences in the defendant's mental state or brain functioning from the time of trial. Dr. Cooper noted that the defendant had a doctorate in psychology and had been employed as a school counselor at the time of her offense. After her arrest, the defendant worked full-time for Ameri-Suites Hotel until the time of her trial. At the time of her trial, the defendant stated she had been taking medications prescribed by Dr. Blaise Wofrum. However, Dr. Cooper noted that Dr. Wolfrum's records showed that he had not treated the defendant for approximately nine months before her trial. There was also no record of any prescriptions from Dr. Wolfrum. According to the records, the defendant was not under any doctor's care in June 2006.

¶ 8 Dr. Cooper testified that he also reviewed records from Dr. James Corcoran, who treated the defendant for anxiety and depression about two months after her conviction. Dr. Cooper found it relevant that the defendant did not exhibit any psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions or confused thinking when she saw Dr. Corcoran. He also noted that the defendant was not seen by a psychiatrist or psychologist for any mental health treatment from the time of her trial in June 2006 until she saw Dr. Corcoran in August 2006.

¶ 9 Upon examination, Dr. Cooper found the defendant to be cogent and coherent and that she did not display any signs of disorganized thinking, confusion or psychotic symptoms. He acknowledged that, before her June 2004 arrest, the defendant was hospitalized for depression and anxiety for nine days and then reported ongoing symptoms after that point. However, based on her clinical history, Dr. Cooper opined that, although the defendant had a history of depression, that diagnosis did not render her unfit to stand trial. Dr. Cooper concluded that the defendant was fit to stand trial in June 2006, because there was no clinical indication that she suffered from significant symptoms of mental health disease that would have precluded or impeded her fitness at the time of trial. In his opinion, the defendant was able to assist in her defense in June 2006 and was able to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against her.

¶ 10 Dr. Peter Lourgos, a forensic psychiatrist, testified that he evaluated the defendant to determine her fitness to stand trial in June 2006. He reviewed her psycho-social history, police reports, and her medical and court records; he also interviewed the defendant. Dr. Lourgos noted that the defendant's statement in allocution demonstrated that, at the time of trial, she had "very clear and organized thoughts." He reviewed her medical records from 2004, which showed that the defendant had a history of depressive symptoms and anxiety. Dr. Lourgos testified that the defendant reported being on medication at the time of trial, but the medical records and the probation department records do not indicate that she was on any medication. Dr. Lourgos noted that the defendant was not being treated at the time of trial. He also noted that, after her conviction, the defendant saw Dr. Corcoran, who documented that she suffered from depression and anxiety. Dr. Lourgos agreed that the defendant's symptoms seemed to demonstrate situational depression, the result of the stress of her convictions, incarceration and pending divorce. Based upon his review of the defendant's medical history and the court transcripts, Dr. Lourgos concluded that the defendant understood the proceedings against her and participated in her defense. Dr. Lourgos noted that the defendant's history of depression did not include any evidence that her illness rendered her non-functioning as she completed her graduate education and maintained steady employment through the time of trial. Dr. Lourgos opined that the defendant was fit to stand trial in June 2006, because she was not suffering from a severe mental illness which would have impaired her understanding of the nature and purpose of the proceedings against her, the roles of the various court personnel, or her ability to assist in her defense.

ΒΆ 11 The defense called Dr. Tony Allen Fletcher, a forensic psychologist, who testified that he conducted a retroactive fitness evaluation of the defendant and found her unfit at the time of trial. Dr. Fletcher stated that he relied upon collateral interviews he conducted with the defendant's family members, prior psychiatrist and prior attorney to evaluate her state of mind at the time of trial. He also reviewed her prior medical records. Dr. Fletcher testified that he learned that the defendant was severely depressed and had suicidal thoughts when she ...

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