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People v. Thompson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

December 19, 2016

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JASON J. THOMPSON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Rock Island County, Illinois, Circuit No. 06-CF-696 Honorable F. Michael Meersman, Judge, Presiding.

          Justices Lytton and Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          McDADE JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Jason J. Thompson, appeals the denial of his postconviction petition at the second stage of proceedings. Defendant contends that the trial court erred in denying his petition without holding an evidentiary hearing. We reverse and remand for a third-stage evidentiary hearing.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Following a stipulated bench trial, defendant was found guilty of two counts of first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2), (a)(3) (West 2006)). The trial court sentenced defendant to 60 years' imprisonment. At the sentencing hearing, the trial court indicated that the two counts would merge into one conviction. However, the written sentencing order stated that defendant was sentenced to 60 years' imprisonment on each count of first degree murder, to be served concurrently. On direct appeal, we affirmed defendant's conviction. People v. Thompson, No. 3-08-0132 (2009) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

         ¶ 4 Defendant filed a pro se postconviction petition. The petition argued that defendant's arrest was void and his subsequent statements to the police should have been suppressed because he was arrested without a warrant and held for an unduly long period of time before his probable cause hearing. The trial court found that defendant's pro se petition presented the gist of a constitutional claim and ordered that the petition be docketed for further postconviction proceedings.

         ¶ 5 Defendant filed a pro se "Supplemented Post-Conviction Petition" arguing that "Illinois Revised Statutes, Ch38 [sic], sec. 109-1(a)" was unconstitutional and void because it provided no legal remedy for a violation of fourth amendment rights.

         ¶ 6 Defendant then filed an amended postconviction petition through counsel. The petition argued that defendant received ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. Specifically, the petition argued that defendant's due process rights were violated when (1) two first degree murder judgments were entered against him for the murder of the same individual and (2) the sentencing judge "based his sentencing on his personal belief that people like the defendant don't deserve mercy from the court and *** are a real threat to society." The amended petition also argued that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise these issues. The amended petition also sought "incorporation of the arguments contained within and the Affidavits attached to [defendant's] pro se Petition for Post-Conviction Relief."

         ¶ 7 Defendant then filed a pro se "Motion for Leave to File Supplemental Claims in the Currently Pending Amended Post-Conviction Petition." The motion alleged that postconviction counsel failed to include several claims in the amended petition that defendant believed to be meritorious. Defendant argued that he should be able to present all of his postconviction claims to the court even if his postconviction counsel did not "agree" with all of his claims.

         ¶ 8 Defendant also filed a pro se "Supplemental Amended Post-Conviction Petition." The supplemental petition argued that (1) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to raise various objections to the photographic lineups at the suppression hearing, (2) trial counsel was ineffective for failing to raise a meritorious fourth amendment claim based on defendant being held by the police for an unduly long period of time before he was taken before a judge for a probable cause hearing, and (3) section 109-1(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/109-1(a) (West 2006)), which provided that a person arrested for a crime shall be taken "without unnecessary delay before the nearest and most accessible judge in that county, " was unconstitutional in that it was vague and ambiguous and provided no remedy for noncompliance.

         ¶ 9 On September 27, 2013, the trial court held a "second stage hearing." The trial court stated that it had read the trial transcript, the file, the amended postconviction petition filed through counsel, and defendant's various pro se filings. The trial court said it would consider defendant's pro se supplemental claims even though postconviction counsel did not adopt them. Both postconviction counsel and the assistant State's Attorney stated that they did not wish to present any evidence.

         ¶ 10 After hearing arguments, the trial court dismissed the amended petition. The trial court found that only one conviction for first degree murder had been entered and that the sentencing judge did not err in sentencing defendant to 60 years' imprisonment. The trial court also denied relief based on defendant's pro se supplemental claims. Postconviction counsel filed a notice of appeal on behalf of defendant.

         ¶ 11 Defendant filed a pro se motion to reconsider. The motion alleged that postconviction counsel filed a notice of appeal without consulting defendant. The motion argued that the trial court erred in dismissing the postconviction petition ...


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