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People v. Kliner

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fourth Division

January 6, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RONALD KLINER, Defendant-Appellant

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 93 CR 15476. Honorable Kay M. Hanlon, Judge Presiding.

SYLLABUS

The appellate court affirmed the dismissal of defendant's petition filed under section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure alleging that his convictions for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder were void because the record did not show that the grand jury that entered his indictments was lawfully impaneled, since the record showed compliance with section 112-2 of the Code of Criminal Procedure by stating that the panel of grand jurors was filled, a foreman was appointed, the jurors were sworn, and they were charged by the court.

For APPELLANT: OFFICE OF THE ILLINOIS STATE APPELLATE DEFENDER, Chicago, IL, Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Alan D. Goldberg, Deputy Defender, Sean Collins-Stapleton, Assistant Appellate Defender.

For APPELLEE: OFFICE OF THE ILLINOIS STATE'S ATTORNEY, Chicago, IL, Anita Alvarez, State's Attorney, Alan J. Spellberg and Michele Grimaldi Stein, Assistant State's Attorneys.

PRESIDING JUSTICE FITZGERALD SMITH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Howse and Epstein concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 1257

FITZGERALD SMITH, PRESIDING JUSTICE.

[¶1] Defendant Ronald Kliner appeals the circuit court's dismissal of his 2011 petition for relief from judgment filed pursuant to section 2-1401(f) of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1401(f) (West 2010)). On appeal, defendant asserts, as he did in the petition, that his 1996 convictions for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder are void because the trial record does not affirmatively show the grand jury that entered his indictments was lawfully impaneled. We affirm.

[¶2] Following a jury trial, defendant was convicted of the 1988 murder of Dana Rinaldi and for conspiring to commit that crime. Defendant was found eligible for the death penalty because he committed the murder pursuant to a contract or agreement by which he was to receive money or valuables in exchange for committing that crime. See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1987, ch. 38, ¶ 9-1(b)(5). The trial court found no mitigating factors sufficient to preclude the imposition of the death penalty, and defendant was sentenced to death. On direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court, defendant's conviction and sentence were affirmed. People v. Kliner, 185 Ill.2d 81, 178, 705 N.E.2d 850, 235 Ill.Dec. 667 (1998). Defendant filed a petition for writ of certiorari before the United States Supreme Court, which was denied. Kliner v. Illinois, 528 U.S. 831, 120 S.Ct. 86, 145 L.Ed.2d 73 (1999). In 2003, defendant's death sentence was commuted to a term of natural life imprisonment.

[¶3] After his direct appeal, defendant initiated several collateral proceedings. Defendant's first petition for postconviction relief, filed in 2001, was dismissed after an evidentiary hearing. On appeal, this court affirmed. People v. Kliner, No. 1-04-0050 (2006) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). Defendant also filed motions requesting deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) testing, which the circuit court denied. On appeal, this court affirmed. People v. Kliner, Nos. 1-05-3150, 1-07-0374 cons. (2008) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23); People v. Kliner, 2013 IL App. (1st) 110785-U.

[¶4] On October 3, 2011, defendant filed a pro se petition for relief from judgment under section 2-1401(f) (735 ILCS 5/2-1401(f) (West 2010)), alleging his convictions are void because the grand jury that indicted him in 1993 lacked jurisdiction to act. He asserted the record of his trial proceedings did not establish that the grand jury was sworn pursuant to section 112-2(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/112-2(b) (West 1992)), which states that the " Grand Jury shall be impaneled, sworn and instructed as to its duties by the court."

[¶5] Defendant further alleged the trial record did not include a certificate as to the impanelment of the grand jury as required by Illinois Supreme Court Rule 608(a)(2) (eff. Aug. 1, 1986). Attached to defendant's petition was a letter from Best E. Anaele, the acting chief deputy clerk of the circuit court of Cook County. The letter ...


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