from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 14-CF-2935
Honorable Mark L. Levitt, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE McLAREN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Hutchinson and Jorgensen concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
1 After a jury trial, defendant, Keenan Morgan, was found
guilty of unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon (720
ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2014)) and sentenced to seven years in
prison. The trial court denied defendant's motion for a
new trial, and defendant timely appeals. The sole issue
raised on appeal is whether the trial court adequately
inquired into defendant's pro se claim of
ineffective assistance of counsel. For the reasons that
follow, we remand.
2 I. BACKGROUND
3 Defendant was indicted on two counts of unlawful possession
of a weapon by a felon (id.), two counts of
aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1),
(a)(3)(C), (a)(3)(A-5) (West 2014)), and one count of
defacing identification marks on a firearm (720 ILCS
5/24-5(b) (West 2014)).
4 On December 10, 2014, the parties had a conference pursuant
to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 402 (eff. July 1, 2012). The
State made a plea offer. The terms of the offer were not
stated on the record.
5 On February 17, 2015, the parties had a second Rule 402
conference. Thereafter, the parties appeared before the
court. The State indicated that, during the conference, the
State "modified [its] offer to four years in the DOC at
50 percent." According to the State, defendant rejected
that offer, and the State revoked it. The trial court
confirmed with defendant that the State had offered him a
four-year prison sentence on a Class 2 felony. The court
advised defendant that, given his background, if he were to
go to trial, the potential prison sentence would range from 3
to 14 years. Defendant confirmed that he wanted to reject the
State's offer of four years and proceed to trial.
6 On February 24, 2015, at the outset of defendant's jury
trial, defense counsel stated that she had a bona
fide doubt as to defendant's fitness to stand trial.
The trial court then questioned defendant about his
understanding of the criminal legal process. After speaking
with defendant, the court agreed that a fitness evaluation
was warranted and ordered an evaluation. Dr. Anthony Latham
evaluated defendant that afternoon, and a fitness hearing
took place the next day.
7 At the outset of the fitness hearing, the parties
stipulated to Dr. Latham's qualifications and to his
fitness evaluation, wherein he recommended that defendant be
found fit to stand trial. The report also contained the
following comments in the summary:
"[Defendant] expressed much dissatisfaction, if not
vitriol, when discussing his interactions with his attorney
such as his perception that she 'does not really give a
f**k' and has only met with him three times since he was
jailed October 25, 2014. [Defendant] indicated that he asks
his attorney the same questions because of the duration and
infrequency of the time he has met with her. He also
expressed dissatisfaction that his attorney informed him that
there was 'a deal of two years on the table.'
[Defendant] stated that he wanted to take this deal but his
attorney told him it was possible that he could receive a
term of probation. [Defendant] then indicated that he never
rejected the deal for two years but his attorney informed him
that this deal was no longer available as he wanted a term of
probation. [Defendant] then expressed that he is only
following his attorney's lead. He later pondered the
prospects of being assigned an alternative attorney because
of his belief that his current attorney has provided
*** He also indicated that his current defense counsel does
not listen to him. He indicated that he was offered 4-years
which he claimed he wanted to accept."
counsel told the trial court that she did not think that she
and defendant could work together. She stated:
"Judge, I would note that although the doctor found him
him [sic] fit there are many statements throughout
the entire evaluation regarding the relationship between
myself and the defendant. That's always been the issue of
the defendant's fitness for me he is unable to assist me
as laid out specifically by Dr. Latham, a skeptical view of
me, his demeanor towards me, I think the word vivitrol or
vitrol was used when he's speaking about me, and due to
that breakdown in the relationship I do think it's
possible that [defendant] ...