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People v. Lesley

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

March 2, 2017

MYRON T. LESLEY, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, La Salle County, Illinois, Circuit No. 12-CF-86 Honorable Cynthia M. Raccuglia, Judge, Presiding.

          LYTTON JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Schmidt dissented, with opinion.



         ¶ 1 Defendant, Myron T. Lesley, raises two issues for our review. First, he argues that the trial court erred in forcing him to represent himself at his evidentiary hearing due to disagreements he had with his appointed counsel without first warning defendant that his conduct could result in the waiver of his right to counsel, and second, the trial court applied a misconduct standard of proof at the evidentiary hearing. Because we reverse and remand on the first issue, we need not reach the second.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On June 13, 2013, defendant pled guilty to the offenses of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver (720 ILCS 570/401(c)(2) (West 2012)) and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/401(c)(2) (West 2012)) in exchange for consecutive sentences of five years' imprisonment and six years' imprisonment, respectively. The State also agreed to dismiss four additional charges.

         ¶ 4 On September 30, 2013, defendant filed a postconviction petition arguing that he received ineffective assistance of plea counsel in that counsel failed to adequately investigate the case and gave him erroneous advice. The petition also claimed that defendant's sentences "could have been ran concurrently *** when nothing was stated in sentencing on the reason for consecutively."

         ¶ 5 On October 30, 2013, the State filed a motion to dismiss the postconviction petition. At a hearing the next day, the trial court appointed the public defender to represent defendant. On November 21, 2013, defendant appeared with Timothy Cappellini, the La Salle County public defender, for a "first appearance" hearing on the postconviction petition. Defendant informed the court that he and Cappellini had a disagreement. Defendant stated that Cappellini told defendant to "go pro se and do it [himself]" when defendant told Cappellini he needed to see transcripts of prior proceedings. Cappellini responded: "I said if he doesn't want me to represent him, he can go pro se. Otherwise, I will acquire the transcripts, I will review 'em and I will be the attorney." The trial court continued the matter.

         ¶ 6 On February 20, 2014, Douglas Kramarsic, an assistant public defender, appeared on behalf of defendant at a status hearing. Kramarsic stated that he had previously met with defendant to attempt to explain changes he wanted to make to the postconviction petition. Defendant became "very belligerent" and told Kramarsic "numerous times to go fuck [him]self." Defendant said that Kramarsic was "fired" and he wanted to hire his own attorney. Defendant grabbed the papers out of Kramarsic's hands "in a physical and aggressive manner." Kramarsic then left the room as defendant continued to yell obscenities at him.

         ¶ 7 Kramarsic then stated: "Your Honor, I believe at this point it's clear that [defendant] does not wish to continue with me as his attorney, and I'll leave it to the Court's discretion as to what should take place next." The trial court told defendant he could respond, and defendant stated:

"First of all, Your Honor, he came back there and told me something totally different. It wasn't all this and that. It got out of hand-not out of hand, he tried to treat me like I'm stupid or something. *** [A]nd then I'm trying to show him something and he's ignoring it and I'm yelling at him, I don't think he's trying to help me, he's trying to hurt me."

         ¶ 8 The trial court said that defendant had been appointed several public defenders and there was no one left to appoint. The trial court also told defendant that he did not have a choice as to which attorney he was assigned from the public defender's office. Defendant indicated that he wished to hire his own attorney, and the trial court granted him a 60-day continuance to do so. The trial court stated, "I can't give you another Public Defender but I can certainly let you hire somebody." The following exchange then occurred between the trial court and Kramarsic:

"MR. KRAMARSIC: Your Honor, I guess at this point it may leave me in limbo. I guess if you're still leaving me as the attorney of record, there are issues that I would want to correct with this but [defendant] certainly does not wish to hear anything that I have to say.
* * *
THE COURT: Is there anything that you want to put on the record today?
MR. KRAMARSIC: I mean, I would just like to say that I have reviewed the records, I have reviewed everything involved in this case. I haven't filed my certification regarding that, which I was going to file with my amended petition, but I can't even get to the point of being able to do that.
THE COURT: And I won't have you do that.
THE COURT: Right now, nothing you will do, because he's requested time to-
THE COURT:-get a private lawyer.

         And so I'm reserving my ruling on you filing anything, nor are you under any obligation to do that until I see what [defendant] can find in 60 days, so let's do that for you."

         ¶ 9 Another status hearing was held on April 24, 2014. Kramarsic advised the court that he attempted to discuss with defendant whether defendant had been able to hire private counsel and "it [was] one hundred percent absolutely clear from our conversations that [defendant] want[ed] nothing to do with [Kramarsic] in this case." Defendant stated that he was trying to find an attorney but had not hired one yet. The trial court scheduled a hearing on the State's motion to dismiss for June 12, 2014. The trial court told Kramarsic: "I'm aware he won't talk to you. And so you won't be representing him at any hearing at this point." The trial court then stated:

"THE COURT: All right. *** And if [defendant] doesn't have a lawyer [at the hearing on the motion to dismiss], I'll have to ...

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