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People v. Willis

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

March 6, 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ANTHONY J. WILLIS, Defendant-Appellant

Page 982

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Marion County. No. 12-CF-58. Honorable Michael D. McHaney, Judge, presiding.

SYLLABUS

The trial court's order denying defendant's motion to withdraw his guilty plea to a charge of escape was reversed and the cause was remanded for further proceedings, including strict compliance with the requirements of Supreme Court Rule 604(d), since the record raised a serious question as to whether counsel fulfilled his duties under Rule 604(d).

For Appellant: Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Ellen J. Curry, Deputy Defender, Richard J. Whitney, Assistant Appellate Defender, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Mt. Vernon, IL.

For Appellee: Hon. Matt Wilzbach, State's Attorney, Marion County Courthouse, Salem, IL; Patrick Delfino, Director, Stephen E. Norris, Deputy Director, Sharon Shanahan, Staff Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Mt. Vernon, IL.

JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Honorable Bruce D. Stewart, J., and Honorable S. Gene Schwarm, J., Concur.

OPINION

GOLDENHERSH, JUSTICE.

Page 983

[¶1] Defendant, Anthony J. Willis, appeals from an order of the circuit court of Marion County denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea to the offense of escape (720 ILCS 5/31-6(a) (West 2012)) and his motion to reduce sentence. Defendant raises three issues on appeal: (1) whether the order denying his motion to withdraw his guilty plea should be reversed because his public defender filed a certificate under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(d) (eff. July 1, 2006) that was defective on its face and impeached by the record; (2) whether the sentence imposed was disproportionate to the nature of the offense and should be modified; and (3) whether he was denied effective assistance of counsel with respect to his guilty plea, the negotiations leading up to his guilty plea, his motion to withdraw his guilty plea, and his motion for reduction of sentence. We reverse and remand with directions.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] On Thursday, February 23, 2012, defendant pled guilty to the charge of retail theft in case No. 10-CF-207 and was sentenced to 18 months in the Department of Corrections (Department). After the sentencing hearing, defendant's attorney requested defendant be granted a furlough until the following Monday to allow him to spend time with his child. The trial court granted the request, stating, " Mittimus stayed to Monday morning at 9:00 a.m." Defendant then queried, " I have to come back turn myself in at 9:00 a.m.?" His attorney replied, " 9:00 a.m. Monday morning." The clerk stated on the record that Monday was " February 27." The trial court warned defendant: " [If you fail to report] there is going to be an escape charge. Your situation goes from bad to disastrous."

[¶4] Defendant failed to report to the county jail on February 27, 2012, but did report the following Monday, March 5, 2012, on his own volition. Defendant claimed he was confused as to which Monday he was to report. During the one-week delay in reporting, the State charged defendant with the instant offense of escape. The matter was set for jury trial on June 18, 2012.

[¶5] Prior to the start of trial, the State moved to bar a defense witness on the ground that the defense just disclosed her as a witness and the State did not have time to investigate the witness's record. Defense counsel asserted he experienced difficulty locating the witness and had only located her that day and then asked that the case be continued because he, too, did not have sufficient time to interview her. The trial court responded that defendant had known of this witness since February 29, 2012, or earlier. Defense counsel then asserted that since defendant had been in prison, he did not have the opportunity to discuss the witness with him. The trial court noted defendant was no ...


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