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People v. Owens

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

March 28, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
OLLIE B. OWENS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, La Salle County, Illinois, Circuit No. 14-CF-279 Honorable Cynthia M. Raccuglia, Judge, Presiding.

          WRIGHT JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Lytton concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice McDade dissented, with opinion.

          OPINION

          WRIGHT JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 A jury found Ollie B. Owens (defendant) guilty of domestic battery, and the trial court sentenced defendant to four years' imprisonment in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Defendant appeals his conviction on the grounds that the trial court improperly deprived defendant of his sixth amendment right to self-representation.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On August 5, 2014, the State charged defendant with home invasion pursuant to section 19-6(a)(2) of the Criminal Code of 2012. 720 ILCS 5/19-6(a)(2) (West 2014). On August 6, 2014, at defendant's request, the trial court appointed a public defender to represent defendant. On the same date, Michael Olewinski entered an appearance as defendant's appointed counsel.

         ¶ 4 On August 12, 2014, the State charged defendant by indictment with one count of home invasion pursuant to section 19-6(a)(2) of the Criminal Code of 2012. Id. Count I of the indictment alleged that between July 13, 2014, and July 14, 2014, defendant, knowingly and without authority, entered the dwelling place of Gina Stayton, having reason to know Stayton was present within that dwelling place, and intentionally caused injury to Stayton by grabbing her by the neck and punching her about the body. On August 21, 2014, defendant pleaded not guilty to the charge of home invasion.

         ¶ 5 On October 21, 2014, the State added a second count to the indictment, charging defendant with felony domestic battery pursuant to section 12-3.2(a)(1) of the Criminal Code of 2012. Id. § 12-3.2(a)(1). Count II of the indictment alleged that between July 13, 2014, and July 14, 2014, defendant knowingly caused bodily harm to Gina Stayton, a family or household member of defendant, by grabbing Stayton by the neck and punching Stayton about the body. The indictment further alleged that defendant had previously been convicted of domestic battery. On October 30, 2014, at a pretrial hearing, defendant pleaded not guilty to the felony offense of domestic battery.

         ¶ 6 On November 10, 2014, jury selection began, and the State dismissed count I. Prior to jury selection, the following exchange took place between defendant and the court:

"THE DEFENDANT: Yes, ma'am. Can I ask you something?
THE COURT: Sure.
THE DEFENDANT: Is there any kind of way we can just work some probation out and forget about this jury?
And between the Court, I would like to get my probation transferred to Tupelo, Mississippi. I would like to leave from here if I can, please.
I ain't did anything wrong. I don't want to go to jury.
THE COURT: Here. Here. Let me explain something to you, Mr. Owens, and I will give you some time.
I am not involved in settlement negotiations, and I need to tell you why. Because I need to sentence you if you are found guilty in front of a jury, and I can't be bound by things.
But I can tell you that if you have been on probation before, I myself in sentencing you, would be if you are found guilty unlikely to consider probation. Particularly, since you have been on it before and you're eligible for an extended term.
Your only hope-you're presumed innocent-of working something out is not with me. Because I have to hear the evidence and then I have to make a decision.
By now, you should have had discussions with your lawyer about trying to work things out. I'm ready to bring a jury up.
Now, would you like to have some last minute discussions with your lawyer?
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah.
THE COURT: All right. I'll let you do that."

         ¶ 7 Following jury selection, on November 12, 2014, [1] the following exchange took place between defendant and the court:

[THE COURT]: "Now, I want to hear what the problem is because I never believe, Mr. Owens, it makes any sense to have someone represent yourself.
And if I tell this jury-I've told them all along he represents you. And the implication that you fired your lawyer is not going to look very good one way or another.
So, let's talk about this. What is the problem?
THE DEFENDANT: He's not defending me. He, my lawyer is against me, just like the prosecutor trying to convict me.
My lawyer workin' with him. Because ever since I have been fighting this case, your Honor, he been telling me I'm going to get some time on it.
And with the evidence that I have, you know, in my motion to discovery and stuff, him as my lawyer, ain't no way I should be able to get convicted.
THE COURT: Well, let's start out with this.
His job is to talk outside of my presence and to review the evidence in this case, Mr. Owens. And let's face it, you're presumed innocent.
And I think you're misunderstanding, because Mr. Olewinski is a good lawyer. But that's not-his job in front of me is to defend you at trial.
His job outside of my presence, and outside of the presence of the prosecutor, and we don't want to hear it, is to tell you what could happen to you.
Now, I advised you early on before the trial when I talked to you about what you faced, if, in fact-because I know your background and you're eligible for an extended term-if, in fact, you're found guilty then you may face time. Yes. If you are innocent, you don't have to worry about it. But him telling you-nobody knows what a jury is going to do, Mr. Owens. You know that. That's why we go to jury trial.
But if he's telling you that you may face time if you are found guilty, that doesn't mean he can't defend you at trial. That's a different thing.
Because it's true. You may face jail time if you are found guilty. If you are found not guilty, you don't have to worry about it.
Do you understand what I'm saying? Don't, don't-what's the word? I'm trying to look for the word.
Don't confuse the words. Just because he has to tell you as your lawyer what you may face if you are found guilty, doesn't mean he can't defend you. That's his job. That's what negotiations-
That's why I'm not part of negotiations. No part of it. That's why I told you early on, I don't want to have anything to do with negotiations.
People shouldn't tell me because that's not my job. That's between lawyers, and in the privacy of your conversation with your lawyer. Because if you are found guilty, then I sentence you. And I don't want to know what the negotiations are. But your lawyer is here not only to defend you at trial, but to negotiate for you and tell you things that you may face.
Do you get that?
Do you understand that?
THE DEFENDANT: Yeah. I understand that, your Honor.
THE COURT: But, that doesn't mean he can't defend you. He's a good lawyer. And I think it makes no sense at this stage to not have him defend you.
THE DEFENDANT: But he's not going to defend me to the best of his knowledge. I know this because he done told me three or four times.
THE COURT: Mr. Olewinski, what is your response to that?
MR. OLEWINSKI: My response is that I have not told him that I was not going to defend him. I have told him potential penalties.
I have told him the likelihood of, my opinion of the likelihood of the outcome of the trial and what he would be facing.
And part of the complaints he's talking about is, does involve the negotiations that have been ongoing between Mr. Adams and myself. He's not happy with the progress of the negotiations.
And when I point out the negative parts of the case, the evidence against him, he believes that because I point those things out, that I am on the side of the State.
THE COURT: All right. Well, if that's how you're feeling, that's not true.
That's his job, Mr. Owens. And if you think, frankly, that he can create a miracle and you get probation -
Now that doesn't mean you won't get probation in a sentencing hearing. But with your criminal record, if you think-you can't force the State to give you something they don't want to give you.
So, we got a jury waiting. Do you or do you not want to proceed with Mr. Cappellini, or do you want to proceed?
MR. OLEWINSKI: Um-
MR. ADAMS: Olewinski.
THE COURT: I meant Olewinski. He's sitting here, Mr. Cappellini. So, I saw him walk in.
See, the mind works in strange ways.
Do you want to proceed here today?
Are you prepared to represent yourself here today?
THE DEFENDANT: No, because I don't know anything about ...

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