from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, La Salle
County, Illinois. Appeal No. 3-15-0213 Circuit No. 03-CF-556
Honorable Cynthia M. Raccuglia, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE McDADE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Lytton and O'Brien concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 Defendant, Robert Dalton, appeals from the denial of his
postconviction petition at the third stage. Defendant also
appeals the sua sponte dismissal of his section
2-1401 petition. We reverse and remand for further
3 On December 30, 2003, defendant was arrested and charged by
information with two counts of aggravated criminal sexual
abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-16(d) (West 2000)), a Class 2 felony.
Count I alleged that on July 16, 2001, defendant committed an
act of sexual conduct with M.C., a minor between the ages of
13 and 17, by placing his penis in M.C.'s vagina. Count
II alleged that defendant committed the same conduct with
M.C. on November 7, 2001. The State later filed an indictment
raising identical charges.
4 On May 17, 2004 (more than 120 days after the original
charges were filed), the State filed an amended information
adding four new charges. Counts III, IV, and V were different
from the original charges in that they alleged that defendant
committed the act of criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS
12-13(a)(3) (West 2000)) on three different occasions when
M.C. and defendant resided in the same household continuously
for at least one year. Count VI was identical to count I in
that both counts were based on the same act alleged to have
occurred on July 16, 2001, but count VI charged the greater
Class 1 offense of criminal sexual assault and added an
allegation that defendant committed the offense at a time
when he and M.C. had resided in the same household
continuously for at least one year.
5 Next, the parties met for a final pretrial conference. At
the hearing, the parties informed the court that they wished
to let the previously scheduled trial date remain unchanged.
The court noted that there was a "time limit period,
" and asked if there would be an issue if the parties
let the trial date stand. Defense counsel responded that he
wanted the trial date to remain the same and told the court,
"[t]here'll be no speedy trial issue."
6 Following a trial, the jury found defendant guilty of
counts III, IV, V, and VI. The trial court sentenced
defendant to consecutive prison terms of 4, 6, 12, and 15
years, respectively. The jury did not receive an instruction
on counts I and II, and the jury did not make a finding of
guilt regarding those charges.
7 Defendant's trial counsel filed a motion for new trial,
which the trial court denied. Defendant then retained new
counsel for the posttrial proceedings. Posttrial counsel
filed a second motion for new trial and a motion to
reconsider sentence. Initially, the court granted
defendant's motion for new trial and ordered a new trial.
However, the court later granted the State's motion to
reconsider and reinstated defendant's convictions and
sentences. None of the posttrial motions alleged that trial
counsel provided ineffective assistance in failing to raise a
speedy trial claim.
8 Defendant appealed. On appeal, counsel for defendant filed
a motion to withdraw pursuant to Anders v.
California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967). Counsel's motion
considered the following issues (and determined that they
lacked merit): (1) whether the evidence was sufficient to
sustain defendant's conviction, (2) whether the trial
court abused its discretion in allowing the admission of
certain State exhibits, (3) whether the trial court abused
its discretion in allowing M.C. to testify regarding sexual
assaults that occurred in De Kalb County, (4) whether the
decisions identified in posttrial counsel's motion for
new trial established claims of ineffective assistance of
trial counsel, and (5) whether any error occurred at
sentencing. This court granted appellate counsel's motion
and dismissed the appeal. People v. Dalton, No.
3-06-0041 (2007) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule
9 Subsequently, defendant filed a pro se petition
for postconviction relief. The trial court docketed the
petition and appointed counsel to represent defendant. After
several amendments to the petition, counsel filed an amended
petition, adopting defendant's pro se claims and
adding the claim that defendant's prior attorneys all
provided ineffective assistance for failing to raise the
issue that defendant's speedy trial rights had been
violated regarding counts III, IV, V, and VI. The State filed
a motion to dismiss, arguing that defendant's right to a
speedy trial was not violated because the newly added counts
alleged separate acts on different dates than those alleged
in the original counts. The State acknowledged that there
"may be an issue" with respect to count VI because
it was based on the same act alleged in count I. However, the
State argued that the late filing of count VI did not
implicate defendant's speedy trial right because the new
count merely alleged an "upgraded" version of the
charge in count I.
10 At a hearing on the State's motion to dismiss
defendant's amended postconviction petition, the trial
court found that defendant's speedy trial claim warranted
a third-stage postconviction hearing. The court continued the
cause and allowed the parties to file additional briefs on
11 Prior to the third-stage hearing on defendant's
amended postconviction petition, defendant filed a pro
se document captioned "725 ILCS
5/122-1(c)(a)(2)/735 ILCS 5/2-1401 Supplement-Addition
Motion." Defendant's pro se motion alleged
a new claim of newly discovered evidence that established