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People v. Gillon

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

December 8, 2016

JOHNNIE D. GILLON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Champaign County, No. 13-CF-2096; the Hon. Heidi N. Ladd, Judge, presiding.

Michael J. Pelletier, Patricia Mysza, and Bradley Jarka (argued), of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

          David J. Robinson and John M. Zimmerman (argued), both of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of Springfield, of counsel, for the People.

          JUSTICE APPLETON delivered the judgment of the court with opinion. Presiding Justice Knecht and Justice Steigmann concurred in the judgment and opinion.



         ¶ 1 In December 2013, defendant, Johnnie D. Gillon, pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault (720 ILCS 5/12-2(b)(4)(i) (West 2012)) in exchange for the State's dismissal of two other pending charges. The trial court accepted defendant's plea and sentenced him to 30 months' probation. After defendant allegedly committed two criminal offenses while on probation, the State filed a petition to revoke defendant's probation.

         ¶ 2 Defendant's counsel raised a bona fide doubt as to defendant's fitness, and the trial court ordered defendant to be examined. Based on the opinion of a psychiatrist, the court found defendant unfit to stand trial and committed him to the Illinois Department of Human Services (Department). After the State and defense counsel stipulated defendant had been restored to fitness based upon the conclusions in the Department's report, the court found defendant fit to stand trial. The court revoked defendant's probation and sentenced him to five years in prison on the original offense.

         ¶ 3 Defendant appeals, arguing the trial court erred by (1) relying on the parties' stipulation he was fit to stand trial instead of making an independent judicial determination on that issue, (2) not sua sponte raising the fitness issue based upon defendant's conduct during subsequent court proceedings, and (3) failing to conduct a Krankel inquiry (see People v. Krankel, 102 Ill.2d 181 (1984)) into defendant's claim, raised at the sentencing hearing, of counsel's ineffective assistance.

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 In December 2013, the State charged defendant with unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2012)) (count I), felony aggravated assault (720 ILCS 5/12-2(b)(4)(i) (West 2012)) (count II), and misdemeanor aggravated assault (720 ILCS 5/12-2(a) (West 2012)) (count III). Defendant pleaded guilty to count II and was sentenced to 30 months' probation. The State dismissed counts I and III as part of the plea agreement.

         ¶ 6 On March 7, 2014, the State filed a petition to revoke defendant's probation, alleging he committed criminal trespass and assault on February 28, 2014, in violation of the conditions of his probation. On March 19, 2014, defendant's appointed counsel filed a motion for the appointment of a psychiatrist, raising a bona fide doubt as to defendant's fitness to stand trial. The trial court granted counsel's request, appointing psychiatrist Dr. Albert Lo.

         ¶ 7 On April 21, 2014, Dr. Lo prepared a report based upon the fitness evaluation of defendant conducted on an unknown date. Dr. Lo noted defendant's history of paranoid schizophrenia and his need for medication. He said defendant was "able to discuss the differences between pleas of guilty and not guilty" and generally understood the legal system. However, Dr. Lo noted, as the interview progressed, defendant "became increasingly hostile, argumentative, and uncooperative." Dr. Lo believed, due to his behavior, defendant would have difficulty working with an attorney. In Dr. Lo's opinion, defendant was "currently able to understand the nature and purpose of the proceedings against him, but [was] unable to cooperate with an attorney and assist in providing a proper defense due to his mental illness." Thus, Dr. Lo found defendant was currently unfit to stand trial.

         ¶ 8 On May 5, 2014, at a fitness hearing, the trial court accepted Dr. Lo's evaluation and opinion, and without further evidence or argument from either side, it found defendant unfit to plead or stand trial. The court ordered defendant placed in the custody of the Department for evaluation, placement, and treatment.

         ¶ 9 On May 22, 2014, the Department prepared a report (filed June 13, 2014, with the trial court), advising that, pursuant to its preplacement evaluation, conducted on May 16, 2014, by a licensed clinical social worker, defendant was fit to stand trial. According to the report, during the evaluation, defendant explained to the evaluator the circumstances pertaining to his latest criminal behavior with logic and clarity. He admitted that prior to his arrest, he had not taken his psychotropic medications. According to the evaluator, beginning March 1, 2014, since defendant had been in jail, he had been given his medication and "ha[d] shown improvements" in "mood stability and thought processes." When asked to explain the purpose of the interview, defendant said: "You have to see if I am fit. I am now." Based on this evaluation, the Department determined defendant was fit to stand trial.

         ¶ 10 On June 30, 2014, the trial court conducted a fitness hearing. The court accepted the parties' stipulation to the Department's report. Neither party produced further evidence, and both waived argument. The court accepted the report and found defendant was "now fit to stand trial." Defendant's counsel presented the court with an "order for restoration of fitness." The parties agreed to set the matter for a hearing on the State's petition to revoke.

         ¶ 11 On July 28, 2014, the trial court conducted a hearing on the State's petition to revoke defendant's probation. Elizabeth Porter, store manager of Little Caesars Pizza in Urbana, testified as the State's only witness. She said on February 28, 2014, defendant came into the store and began yelling that Porter owed him a pizza. She said he was cussing at customers. Porter told defendant she would give him a pizza if he waited outside. Defendant interrupted her testimony, saying, "She's lyin'." The court admonished defendant to not "say anything out loud." Porter continued her testimony. She said when she told defendant to wait outside, he cursed at her, at another employee, and at customers. Porter said she "got in between" defendant and the customers during the altercation. According to Porter, defendant threatened to hit her and kill her as they stood face-to-face just inches apart. At that point, the police arrived and escorted defendant outside.

         ¶ 12 Defendant testified a police officer had given him money for a pizza. He said a male employee refused to make him a pizza and came around the counter to where defendant was standing. The employee "started putting some gloves on his hands tightenin' them up." He told defendant to stop begging for food. He said Porter grabbed the employee by the shirt. He said Porter told him to go outside so the employee could beat him up. Defendant said he was afraid to go outside because the employee was "a real big heavyset guy" and was waiting for him. Porter told him to go outside or go to jail, and that is when the police walked in.

         ¶ 13 After considering the testimony, the trial court found the State had proved the allegations in the petition to revoke probation by a preponderance of the evidence. The court revoked defendant's probation. After the court announced its ruling, defendant yelled out in court: "I didn't do it, Judge. Why don't you believe? I didn't do nothin'. Please, ma'am. I ...

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