Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, Grundy County, Illinois, Circuit No. 12-CM-959. Honorable Robert C. Marsaglia, Judge, Presiding.
In a prosecution for wilful obstruction or interference with lawful taking of wild animals pursuant to section 2(a) of the Hunter and Fishermen Interference Prohibition Act, the trial court abused its discretion in denying defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea and the appellate court remanded the cause to allow defendant to withdraw his guilty plea and for the entry of a judgment in defendant's favor, since the conduct defendant engaged in was protected by the statutory provision which exempts the legal use of land by landowners and tenants from the scope of the Act.
Christopher S. Carroll, of Aurora, for appellant.
Jason Helland, State's Attorney, of Morris (Laura E. DeMichael, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE McDADE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Lytton and Justice Holdridge concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Defendant, Daniel Holm, was charged with wilful obstruction or interference with lawful taking of wild animals (hunter harassment) under section 2(a) of the Hunter and Fishermen Interference Prohibition Act (Act) (720 ILCS 125/2(a) (West 2010)). Daniel, appearing pro se, entered a plea of guilty. After pleading guilty, Daniel hired private counsel, who filed a motion to withdraw the guilty plea. Counsel argued that Daniel was not guilty of hunter harassment and had pled guilty under duress. After sentencing, counsel filed an amended motion to withdraw the guilty plea, raising additional arguments that section 2(a) of the Act was unconstitutional as a violation of procedural and substantive due process. The court denied the motion in a written order. Daniel appeals, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. We reverse and remand.
[¶3] In December 2012, Daniel and his father, Adam Holm, were arrested and charged under section 2(a) of the Act, which applies to a person who " [w]ilfully obstructs or interferes with the lawful taking of wildlife or aquatic life by another person with the specific intent to prevent that lawful taking." 720 ILCS 125/2(a) (West 2010). Daniel defended pro se. He reached a plea agreement with the State, under which he would plead guilty and sentencing would be capped at one year of conditional discharge.
[¶4] Meanwhile Adam's case proceeded to a jury trial, where he, too, defended pro se. The jury found Adam guilty. On appeal, this court has reversed Adam's conviction, finding that the evidence was insufficient to convict because he met the statutory exemption for " tenants *** exercising their legal rights to the enjoyment of land." 720 ILCS 125/2 (West 2010); People v. Holm, 2014 IL App. (3d) 130582, 387 Ill.Dec. 616, 22 N.E.3d 1269.
[¶5] At the guilty plea hearing in Daniel's case, the court admonished him under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 401(a) (eff. July 1, 1984), as to his waiver of counsel and under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402 (eff. July 1, 2012), as to his plea. Noting the unusual circumstances of Daniel's ...