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People v. Schutz

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

June 7, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
RYAN SCHUTZ, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal from Circuit Court of McLean County No. 13CF873. Honorable John Casey Costigan, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE HOLDER WHITE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Steigmann and Appleton concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HOLDER WHITE, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In July 2013, defendant, Ryan Schutz, hired attorney M. Jane Foster to represent him in an ongoing criminal case. In November 2013, Foster was hired to represent Kristopher Johnson in two unrelated criminal cases. The following month, Foster withdrew from defendant's case. In February 2014, Johnson, who was still represented by Foster, entered into a plea agreement conditioned upon him testifying against defendant in defendant's pending case. Defendant's attorneys at his bench trial, David Rumley and Michael Herzog, had also previously represented Johnson in unrelated matters. Following the bench trial, the trial court found defendant guilty of multiple charges and subsequently sentenced him to 12 years' imprisonment.

         ¶ 2 Defendant appeals, asserting all three of his attorneys labored under conflicts of interest that should result in us reversing his convictions and remanding for a new trial. For the following reasons, we affirm.

         ¶ 3 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 In July 2013, the State charged defendant with numerous offenses related to one victim: (1) four counts of criminal sexual assault while holding a position of trust (720 ILCS 5/11-1.20(a)(4) (West 2012)), (2) four counts of criminal sexual assault by force or threat of force (720 ILCS 5/11-1.20(a)(1) (West 2012)), (3) four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/11-1.60(d) (West 2012)), and (4) two counts of providing alcohol to a minor (235 ILCS 5/6-16(a)(iii) (West 2012)).

         ¶ 5 Later that month, Foster filed an entry of appearance on defendant's behalf. Foster appeared on defendant's behalf for numerous pretrial matters, including (1) defendant's waiver of his right to a jury trial, (2) two State motions to compel, and (3) the State's motions to allow evidence pursuant to sections 115-7.2 and 115-7.3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (725 ILCS 5/115-7.2, 115-7.3 (West 2012)).

         ¶ 6 In November 2013, while she continued to represent defendant, Foster entered her appearance on behalf of Kristopher Johnson in two unrelated criminal cases (McLean County case Nos. 13-CF-735 and 13-CF-1332). At some point in November or December 2013, Johnson, who shared a jail cell with defendant, obtained incriminating evidence from defendant regarding defendant's criminal case.

         ¶ 7 Foster withdrew from defendant's case in December 2013. In February 2014, Johnson entered into a plea agreement wherein he agreed to testify against defendant. Foster signed her acknowledgment of the plea agreement.

         ¶ 8 In March 2014, defendant's case proceeded to bench trial, where he was represented by Rumley and Herzog. Pursuant to his plea agreement, Johnson testified against defendant, stating he had a conversation with defendant in the McLean County jail wherein defendant admitted committing sexual acts with the victim. Herzog objected to Johnson's testimony on numerous occasions, citing lack of foundation or narrative testimony.

         ¶ 9 On direct examination, Johnson admitted he had previously committed drug offenses that resulted in probation and prison sentences. During cross-examination, Rumley and Herzog did not question Johnson about his prior convictions for aggravated battery (McLean County case No. 07-CF-648), violation of bail bond (McLean County case No. 11-CM-752), or felony theft (McLean County case No. 12-CF-177), all impeachable convictions the State disclosed in discovery but failed to raise on direct examination. Herzog cross-examined Johnson regarding the plea agreement, and Johnson admitted he hoped to get a lighter sentence for disclosing confessions from other inmates, particularly those charged with sex offenses. Johnson also admitted he specifically sought information from defendant due to the nature of defendant's case. Herzog also challenged Johnson's version of events, which Rumley highlighted during closing arguments. Rumley argued Johnson's testimony was "laughable, " as Johnson "pretended" to know details about the offense, but those details were inconsistent with other evidence. Moreover, Rumley highlighted that Johnson was a "jailhouse snitch" and convicted felon.

         ¶ 10 In one of the cases involved in Johnson's plea agreement with the State (McLean County case No. 13-CF-735), Herzog had represented Johnson for purposes of conducting a June 2013 bond hearing. The record contains no evidence that defendant or the trial court knew of Herzog's prior representation of Johnson. Additionally, Rumley represented Johnson in a prior criminal proceeding unrelated to Johnson's plea agreement (McLean County case No. 12-CF-177), wherein Johnson was convicted of felony retail theft. Neither the State nor Rumley or Herzog impeached Johnson regarding his conviction on this offense. The record contains no evidence that defendant or the trial court knew of Rumley's prior representation of Johnson.

         ¶ 11 Following the presentation of evidence, the trial court found defendant guilty of one count of criminal sexual assault, one count of criminal sexual abuse, and two counts of providing alcohol to a minor. In reaching its decision, the court found the victim credible given the general consistency of her statements. The court also noted that several witnesses testified about profound changes in the victim around the time of the alleged offenses, including a diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, that gave further weight to the victim's testimony. As to Johnson's testimony, the court said, "while the court does not place a high degree of reliability in Mr. Johnson, the court would note that there are certain facts that he testified to that would be difficult for him to know had he not had a conversation that he claims he did with the ...


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