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People v. Williamson

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

May 14, 2018

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
DEANTHONY E. WILLIAMSON, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 12th Judicial Circuit, Will County, Illinois, Circuit No. 15-CF-330 Honorable Daniel J. Rozak, Judge, Presiding.

          JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Lytton and McDade concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          O'BRIEN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Deanthony E. Williamson, appeals his conviction for unlawful possession of a controlled substance. Defendant argues (1) the trial court improperly infringed on his right to self-representation and (2) defense counsel provided ineffective assistance during the proceedings on defendant's motion to suppress by abandoning the argument that the cocaine found in defendant's vehicle was the product of an illegal search. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 Defendant was charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/402(c) (West 2014)). The public defender was appointed to represent defendant.

         ¶ 4 At a pretrial hearing, an assistant public defender advised the court that defendant wished to proceed pro se. The court asked defendant if he wished to represent himself, and defendant said yes. The court then stated:

"All right. Years ago I used to always try and talk people out of doing that. I don't do it any more. If you're that unwise to try and represent yourself, I figure have at it. I'm going home tonight. You probably won't be for a long, long time because of your own inability to act as your own attorney. All I care about-I am going to go over a few things with you to make sure I know that you have the mental capacity and so forth to represent yourself. It's not whether you have the ability, but whether your waiver is knowing and intelligent."

         The court began inquiring as to defendant's age, education level, ability to read and write, history of mental illness, and prior criminal history. The court then stated that defendant did not appear to be paying attention and said that it would continue the matter.

         ¶ 5 At the next hearing, which was two days later, defendant stated that he still wanted to proceed pro se. The court stated: "Okay. All you have to do, sir, is show me that you are paying attention and that you make a knowing and intelligent waiver of your right to counsel. If you can do that, that's fine, you can represent yourself."

         ¶ 6 The court advised defendant that if he represented himself, he would have to follow the same rules that an attorney would have to follow, lay proper foundations for the admission of evidence, and ask proper questions of witnesses. The court stated that "presenting a defense is simply not a matter of just standing up and telling a story." Defendant said that he understood. The court advised defendant that the State would be represented by experienced attorneys who had training in trial procedure. Defendant stated that he understood. The court then admonished defendant regarding difficulties he might have with jury selection and objecting to inadmissible evidence. Defendant indicated that he understood. The court advised defendant that if he made mistakes during the trial, he would not be able to complain about the competency of his representation on appeal. Defendant said he understood. The court told defendant that it would not grant defendant more time to prepare his case than it would an attorney, and defendant stated that he understood. The following exchange occurred:

"THE COURT: Okay. Also, I will not appoint any standby counsel. That's something I used to do.
THE DEFENDANT: That's fine, your Honor.
THE COURT: Pardon?
THE DEFENDANT: I said it's ...

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