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People v. Morgan

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

August 4, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
KEENAN MORGAN, Defendant-Appellant.

         Appeal 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.

          OPINION

          McLAREN JUSTICE.

         ¶ 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 'ineffective counsel.'
*** 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."

         Defense 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] ...

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