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People v. James

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

May 3, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
THOMAS R. JAMES, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of Vermilion County No. 02CF141 Honorable Craig H. DeArmond, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE KNECHT delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and Pope concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          KNECHT JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Thomas R. James, appeals from the trial court's dismissal of his petition for issuance of a certificate of good conduct under section 5-5.5-30 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Unified Code) (730 ILCS 5/5-5.5-30 (West Supp. 2015)). We affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 In September 2002, a jury found defendant guilty of aggravated robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(1) (West 2002)), a Class X felony. In December 2002, the trial court sentenced defendant to 32 years' imprisonment.

         ¶ 4 In January 2016, defendant filed a pro se petition for the issuance of a certificate of good conduct under section 5-5.5-30 of the Unified Code (730 ILCS 5/5-5.5-30 (West Supp. 2015)). Defendant requested the trial court conduct a rehabilitation hearing, find him to be rehabilitated, issue a certificate of good conduct, and serve the Director of the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) with a copy of the certificate.

         ¶ 5 In February 2016, the trial court dismissed defendant's petition. In a docket entry, the court noted: "There is no legal basis for such a pleading." Defendant filed a timely motion to reconsider.

         ¶ 6 In March 2016, the trial court denied defendant's motion to reconsider. In a docket entry, the court noted:

"The [p]etitioner misinterprets the [c]ourt's previous [dismissal]. There is a statutory basis for a [c]ertificate of [g]ood [c]onduct found in [section 5-5.5-25 of the Unified Code (730 ILCS 5/5-5.5-25 (West 2014))], however, the [p]etitioner has provided no legal basis for the issuance thereof."

         Defendant appealed, and the office of the State Appellate Defender (OSAD) was appointed to represent defendant.

         ¶ 7 In April 2016, OSAD filed a motion for leave to withdraw as appellate counsel, asserting defendant's appeal did not fall within the scope of its representation. That same month, this court granted OSAD's motion.

         ¶ 8 II. ANALYSIS

         ¶ 9 Defendant, proceeding pro se, argues the trial court's dismissal of his petition for the issuance of a certificate of good conduct under section 5-5.5-30 of the Unified Code (730 ILCS 5/5-5.5-30 (West Supp. 2015)) violates (1) due process, (2) the plain-error doctrine, and (3) Illinois Supreme Court Rules 18 and 19 (eff Sept. 1, 2006). The State ...


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