Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County. Nos. 13-CF-435 13-TR-765-68. Honorable Patrick L. Heaslip, Judge, Presiding.
Where the trial court entered an order finding defendant unfit to stand trial after the court disregarded his request for a jury determination of his fitness and ordered defendant to stop talking, and defendant later entered a guilty plea after being found restored to fitness, defendant's appeal contending that the trial court erred in disregarding his request for a jury determination of his fitness was considered by the appellate court under the exceptions to the mootness doctrine applicable when the question at issue is capable of repetition without review and when the issue is a matter of public interest, and pursuant to section 104-12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the appellate court found that defendant had the right to personally demand a jury determination of his fitness; therefore, the trial court's judgment was reversed and the cause was remanded.
Michael J. Pelletier, Thomas A. Lilien, Paul Alexander Rogers, State Appellate Defender's Office, of Elgin, for Appellant.
Joseph B. Bruscato, State's Attorney, of Rockford (Lawrence M. Bauer, Joan M. Kripke, State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.
JUSTICE HUDSON delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices McLaren and Birkett concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] Defendant, Thomas McCoy, appeals the trial court's order finding him unfit to stand trial. He contends that the trial court erred by disregarding his demand for a jury determination of fitness under section 104-12 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (725 ILCS 5/104-12 (West 2012)). Because a defendant has a statutory right to demand a jury determination of fitness, we reverse and remand.
[¶2] I. BACKGROUND
[¶3] On March 16, 2013, defendant was charged with various offenses. On April 4, 2013, defendant's counsel filed a motion to determine defendant's fitness to stand trial. The trial court ordered a fitness evaluation and, on May 19, 2013, an evaluation was filed concluding that defendant was unfit to stand trial but, with appropriate mental-health intervention, was likely to obtain fitness within one year.
[¶4] On June 14, 2013, a hearing was held. The court confirmed with both parties that the report had been received, and defendant stated, " I demand a jury." The court did not respond and asked if there was an agreement on the fitness issue. The State said that there would be a stipulation, and defendant said, " [o]bjection to the stipulation." The court responded, " Mr. McCoy, I want you to stop talking. Stop it right now. Do not interrupt the proceedings." Defendant again objected, and the court said that if defendant did not stop he would be removed from the courtroom. Defendant again said, " I object. I do not consent." The State and defense counsel stipulated that defendant was unfit to stand trial, and the court found him unfit. Defendant yet again objected and demanded a jury hearing. The court never addressed defendant's requests for a jury. That same day, the court entered a written order finding defendant unfit.
[¶5] On June 18, 2013, defendant filed a pro se notice of appeal, seeking review of the order finding him unfit. On June 20, 2013, the court entered another order finding defendant unfit to stand trial. On November 25, 2013, defendant was found to be restored to fitness ...