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People v. Dalton

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

June 9, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROBERT DALTON, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal 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.

          OPINION

          McDADE JUSTICE.

         ¶ 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 proceedings.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 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 23).

         ¶ 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 the issue.

         ¶ 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 ...


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