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People v. Garcia-Rocha

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

February 22, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
JAIME GARCIA-ROCHA, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois. Circuit No. 11-CF-1981. Honorable Edward A. Burmila, Jr., Judge, Presiding.

          PRESIDING JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice McDade concurred in part and dissented in part, with opinion.

          OPINION

          HOLDRIDGE PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 The defendant, Jaime Garcia-Rocha, appeals the dismissal of his postconviction petition at the second stage of proceedings. The defendant argues that (1) his petition made a substantial showing that his due process rights were violated when the trial court failed to hold a proper fitness restoration hearing before accepting his guilty plea, (2) he received unreasonable assistance of postconviction counsel where postconviction counsel failed to adequately raise the issue concerning the fitness restoration showing, (3) his petition made a substantial showing that he received ineffective assistance of plea counsel where plea counsel failed to advise him that his guilty plea would result in presumptively mandatory deportation, and (4) he received unreasonable assistance of postconviction counsel regarding his ineffective assistance of plea counsel claim.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 The defendant was charged with aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer (625 ILCS 5/11-204.1(a)(4) (West 2010)).

         ¶ 4 The trial court found that bona fide doubt existed as to the defendant's fitness and appointed the county psychologist to determine the defendant's fitness to stand trial.

         ¶ 5 A psychological report prepared by the county psychologist concluded that the defendant was mentally unfit to stand trial. Specifically, the report opined that the defendant lacked the ability to cooperate with his attorney, make reasoned decisions, or pay attention to court proceedings. The report stated that the defendant had issues with substance abuse and cognitive disruption and had a possible history of head injuries. The report opined that the defendant could be restored to fitness within one year with inpatient treatment.

         ¶ 6 A fitness hearing was held. The parties stipulated that, if called to testify, the county psychologist would testify consistently with the facts, opinions, and conclusions in her report. The trial court entered an order finding that the defendant was unfit to stand trial and there was a probability that the defendant could be restored to fitness within a year with treatment. The trial court remanded the defendant to the Department of Human Services (DHS) on an inpatient basis.

         ¶ 7 Approximately two months later, a fitness report signed by the defendant's therapist and psychiatrist was filed. The report opined that the defendant was fit to stand trial with medication.

         ¶ 8 At a subsequent hearing, defense counsel informed the court that the last report from DHS indicated that the defendant had been restored to fitness. The trial court then stated:

"Show the Court is in receipt of the report from the [DHS]. Pursuant to their statutory duties, they report to the Court that he's been restored to fitness and he is now ready to proceed with trial. Show that his custody is transferred. He is remanded to the custody of the Sheriff of Will County."

         ¶ 9 Defense counsel then indicated that the parties had a proposed plea agreement to present to the court. The defendant agreed to plead guilty to aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer in exchange for a sentence of 180 days in jail with credit for time served and 24 months' probation. The trial court questioned the defendant as follows regarding the medication he was taking:

"THE COURT: Are you taking any kind of drugs or medication that's prescribed for you by a doctor other than what I have already been advised of?
THE DEFENDANT: Only the one giving it there.
THE COURT: Did you take that medication today?
THE DEFENDANT: I drink it in the afternoons.
THE COURT: Okay. So the fact that you haven't taken it yet, does that interfere in any way with your ability to communicate with [defense counsel]?
THE DEFENDANT: No."

         ¶ 10 After admonishing the defendant pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402 (eff. July 1, 1997), the trial court asked the defendant how he pled. The defendant replied, "I plead guilty." The following exchange then occurred:

"THE COURT: Mr. Garcia, I have a question for you, are you an American citizen?
THE DEFENDANT: No.
THE COURT: Do you understand that by pleading guilty you are putting at risk your ability to remain in the United States or ever become a citizen? Do you understand that?
THE DEFENDANT: Yes.
THE COURT: You want to go ahead with this ...

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