Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Henry County, Illinois. Circuit No. 07-CF-37. The Honorable Larry S. Vandersnick, Judge, Presiding.
Mark D. Fisher, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Ottawa, for appellant.
Terence M. Patton, State's Attorney, of Cambridge (Stephen E. Norris and Patrick D. Daly, both of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.
PRESIDING JUSTICE McDADE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Schmidt specially concurred, with opinion. Justice Lytton dissented, with opinion.
[¶1] Defendant, Albert L. Fields, was convicted of two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child (720 ILCS 5/12-14.1(a)(1) (West 2006)), three counts of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-13(a)(1), (a)(3) (West 2006)), and two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-16(b) (West 2006)).
[¶2] Defendant appealed his convictions. We reversed and remanded for a new trial on the sole ground that defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel because his attorney was laboring under a per se conflict of interest. We did not reach defendant's remaining issues on appeal. People v. Fields, 409 Ill.App.3d 398, 948 N.E.2d 290, 350 Ill.Dec. 221 (2011).
[¶3] Thereafter, the supreme court reversed our decision ( Fields, 409 Ill.App.3d 398, 948 N.E.2d 290, 350 Ill.Dec. 221) and directed us to consider " those issues previously raised but left unresolved owing to [our] disposition." People v. Fields, 2012 IL 112438, ¶ 43, 980 N.E.2d 35, 366 Ill.Dec. 235.
[¶4] Upon subsequent review, we affirmed the trial court's judgment. People v. Fields, 2013 IL App. (3d) 080829-B. We did not reach the question of whether the reversal of defendant's conviction in a previous case, which was admitted as propensity evidence in the present case, required reversal of the instant conviction here on appeal. Fields, 2013 IL App. (3d) 080829-B, ¶ 28. Instead, because the earlier conviction was not reversed until after the conclusion of the instant trial, we held that the reversal of the underlying case constituted " new evidence." Fields, 2013 IL App. (3d) 080829-B, ¶ 28. Therefore, we held that this issue must be brought in a postconviction petition. Fields, 2013 IL App. (3d) 080829-B, ¶ 28. In so holding, we expressly noted that we lacked supervisory authority to step outside the limitations of the supreme court rules governing appeals. Fields, 2013 IL App. (3d) 080829-B, ¶ 28.
[¶5] Thereafter, the supreme court directed us to vacate our prior judgment ( Fields, 2013 IL App. (3d) 080829-B) and, without requiring the filing of a postconviction petition, to " resolve all of the issues identified *** in paragraphs 17 and 28 of its vacated judgment." People v. Fields, 8 N.E.3d 1045, 380 Ill.Dec. 503 (Ill. 2014).
[¶6] Upon vacating our prior judgment, we entered a minute order directing the parties to submit additional briefing on the precise question of whether defendant's conviction in the instant case must be reversed in light of the fact his previous conviction that had served as propensity evidence had been reversed. People v. Fields, No. 3-08-0829 (October 31, 2014) (minute order). Upon review, we reverse defendant's conviction and remand the matter for a new trial.
[¶8] On January 5, 2007, defendant was charged by information alleging that between
1999 and October 27, 2004, defendant, age 17 or older, did, on two separate occasions, place his penis in K.N.J.'s mouth when she was younger than 13 (counts I and II predatory criminal sexual assault of a child); between 1999 and February 2006, did place his penis in K.N.J.'s mouth by the use or threat of force (count III criminal sexual assault); between 1999 and February 2006, did, on two separate occasions, place his penis in K.N.J.'s mouth when she was younger than 18 and he was her stepfather (counts IV and V criminal sexual assault); and between 2001 and February 2006, did fondle K.N.J.'s breasts and vagina and made her ...