JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Freeman, Kilbride, and Theis concurred in
the judgment and opinion. Justice Thomas dissented, with
opinion, joined by Chief Justice Karmeier and Justice Garman.
1 A pro se posttrial claim alleging ineffective
assistance of counsel is governed by the common-law procedure
developed from our decision in People v. Krankel,
102 Ill.2d 181 (1984), and its progeny. Here, we must decide
whether defendant's allegation of "ineffective
assistance of counsel" in his posttrial petition to
withdraw guilty plea and vacate sentence triggered the
circuit court's duty to inquire into the factual basis of
defendant's claim. For the reasons set forth below, we
answer that question in the affirmative.
3 In April 2013, defendant, Qwantrell Ayres, pled guilty to
aggravated battery and was sentenced to 12 months'
conditional discharge, with the requirement he not leave the
state without court permission. In July 2013, the State filed
a petition to revoke defendant's conditional discharge
alleging he left the state without seeking the court's
approval. Thereafter, defendant admitted and stipulated he
left the state without permission.
4 The Champaign County circuit court held a sentencing
hearing on September 4, 2013. Defendant called several
witnesses. Michael McClellan testified he had been
defendant's attorney in the past. McClellan stated he
received a telephone call from defendant several months back
and that defendant told him he was the subject of a police
investigation involving a shooting. McClellan told defendant
"you need to get the hell out of Dodge." McClellan
stated that, based on previous conversations with
defendant's mother, Ellisia Jones, he believed defendant
had two places within the state where he could go. He denied
being told defendant could only go to Indianapolis.
5 Jones's testimony contradicted McClellan's. Jones
stated she told McClellan the only place defendant could go
was Indianapolis. The circuit court sentenced defendant to
seven years' imprisonment.
6 On September 26, 2013, defendant's attorney filed a
motion to reconsider sentence, arguing defendant's
sentence was excessive. The same day, defendant mailed a
pro se petition to withdraw guilty plea and vacate
sentence, alleging "ineffective assistance of
counsel." On November 4, the court held a hearing on
counsel's motion. Defendant was not present. The court
denied counsel's motion to reconsider. The circuit court
did not consider or even reference defendant's petition.
7 Defendant appealed, arguing the circuit court erred because
it did not make a preliminary inquiry regarding his pro
se claim of ineffective assistance of counsel. The
appellate court affirmed, finding the four words
"ineffective assistance of counsel" without
explanation or any supporting facts were insufficient to
trigger the circuit court's duty to inquire. 2015 IL App
(4th) 130996-U, ¶ 14. We granted defendant's
petition for leave to appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. Jan. 1,
9 The issue in this case is whether defendant's
allegation "ineffective assistance of counsel"
without any factual support was sufficient to trigger a
Krankel inquiry. There is a split in the appellate
court on this question. Some decisions hold a bare claim
warrants inquiry. People v. Remsick-Miller, 2012 IL
App (2d) 100921; People v. Pence, 387 Ill.App.3d 989
(2d Dist. 2009); People v. Bolton, 382 Ill.App.3d
714 (2d Dist. 2008). Conversely, other decisions hold a bare
allegation is insufficient and that a defendant must meet
minimal requirements by asserting supporting facts or
specific claims. People v. Montgomery, 373
Ill.App.3d 1104 (4th Dist. 2007); People v. Ward,
371 Ill.App.3d 382 (1st Dist. 2007); People v.
Radford, 359 Ill.App.3d 411 (1st Dist. 2005); People
v. Rucker, 346 Ill.App.3d 873 (1st Dist. 2003).
10 In People v. Krankel, 102 Ill.2d 181 (1984), the
defendant filed a posttrial pro se motion for a new
trial alleging ineffective assistance of counsel because
counsel failed to investigate an alibi defense and failed to
present such a defense. Id. at 187. The defendant
was given an opportunity at a posttrial hearing to present
argument on the motion, after which the trial court denied
it. Id. at 188-89. On appeal, the State conceded the
defendant should have had new counsel to represent him on the
motion. We agreed and remanded for a new hearing on the
motion with different counsel to determine whether the
defendant was denied effective assistance of counsel.
11 The common-law procedure, which has evolved from our
decision in Krankel, is triggered when a defendant
raises a pro se posttrial claim of ineffective
assistance of trial counsel. People v. Jolly, 2014
IL 117142, ¶ 29. This procedure "serves the narrow
purpose of allowing the trial court to decide whether to
appoint independent counsel to argue a defendant's
pro se posttrial ineffective assistance
claims." People v. Patrick, 2011 IL 111666,
¶ 39. "[A] pro se defendant is not
required to do any more than bring his or her claim to the
trial court's attention" (People v. Moore,
207 Ill.2d 68, 79 (2003); People v. Taylor, 237
Ill.2d 68, 76 (2010)), and thus, a defendant is not required
to file a written motion (Patrick, 2011 IL 111666,
¶ 29) but may raise the issue orally (People v.
Banks, 237 Ill.2d 154, 213-14 (2010)) or through a
letter or note to the court (People v. Munson, 171
Ill.2d 158, 200 (1996)). However, the trial court is not
required to automatically appoint new counsel when a
defendant raises such a claim. Jolly, 2014 IL
117142, ¶ 29. Rather, "[t]he law requires the trial
court to conduct some type of inquiry into the underlying
factual basis, if any, of a defendant's pro se
posttrial claim of ineffective assistance of counsel."
People v. Moore, 207 Ill.2d 68, 79 (2003). See also
People v. Ramey, 152 Ill.2d 41, 52 (1992);
People v. Williams, 147 Ill.2d 173, 251 (1991);
People v. Nitz, 143 Ill.2d 82, 134 (1991).
Specifically, the "trial court must conduct an adequate
inquiry ***, that is, inquiry sufficient to determine the
factual basis of the claim." Banks, 237 Ill.2d
at 213. " 'If the trial court determines that the
claim lacks merit or pertains only to matters of trial
strategy, then the court need not appoint new counsel and may
deny the pro se motion. However, if the allegations
show possible neglect of the case, new counsel should be
appointed.' " Jolly, 2014 IL 117142, ¶
29 (quoting Moore, 207 Ill.2d at 78).
12 In making the inquiry, "some interchange between the
trial court and trial counsel regarding the facts and
circumstances surrounding the allegedly ineffective
representation is permissible and usually necessary in
assessing what further action, if any, is warranted on a
defendant's claim." Id. ¶ 30;
Moore, 207 Ill.2d at 78. Accordingly, the trial
court is permitted to inquire of trial counsel about the
defendant's allegations. Jolly, 2014 IL 117142,
¶ 30; Moore, 207 Ill.2d at 78. Likewise, the
court is permitted to discuss the allegations with defendant.
Jolly, 2014 IL 117142, ¶ 30; Moore,
207 Ill.2d at 78. Lastly, the trial court is permitted to
make its determination ...