Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People v. Burns

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

May 13, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
EMERSON T. BURNS, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County, No. 08-CF-1805; the Hon. Hugh Finson, Judge, presiding.

          James E. Chadd, Patricia Mysza, and Aliza R. Kaliski, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

          Jay Scott, State's Attorney, of Decatur (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and John M. Zimmerman, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          Panel JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          STEIGMANN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Following a June 2011 bench trial, the trial court convicted defendant, Emerson T. Burns, of first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1), (a)(2) (West 2008)). In July 2011, the court sentenced him to 50 years in prison. In December 2013, following the denial of his direct appeal, defendant pro se filed a postconviction petition. In October 2016, the State filed a motion to dismiss defendant's amended postconviction petition, which the trial court granted.

         ¶ 2 Defendant appeals, arguing that the trial court erred by dismissing his petition at the second stage of proceedings because he made a substantial showing that his trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by refusing to let him testify at trial. In the alternative, defendant argues this court should remand for further proceedings because his postconviction attorneys failed to comply with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 651(c) (eff. Feb. 6, 2013).

         ¶ 3 The State concedes that defendant's postconviction attorneys failed to comply with Rule 651. We accept this concession and remand for further second-stage postconviction proceedings. We also direct the trial court to provide defendant new postconviction counsel who shall have leave to amend and to add supporting documentation, as counsel deems necessary, in support of defendant's claims.

         ¶ 4 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 5 In December 2008, the State charged defendant with three counts of first degree murder in connection with the death of six-month-old A.S. (born June 8, 2008). In June 2011, defendant's case proceeded to a bench trial, and the trial count found him guilty of first degree murder and sentenced him to 50 years in prison. Defendant appealed, and this court affirmed. People v. Burns, 2012 IL App (4th) 110670, ¶ 23, 981 N.E.2d 503.

         ¶ 6 In December 2013, defendant pro se filed a petition for postconviction relief under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 to 122-7 (West 2012)), alleging (1) appellate counsel was ineffective "by not raising key issues on direct appeal" and (2) the trial court abused its discretion "by reaching a verdict by drawing a conclusion from incompetent evidence." In March 2014, the trial court advanced the petition to the second stage of proceedings after the court failed to rule on the petition within 90 days as required by the Act. Id. § 122-2.1. After permitting defendant's initially appointed counsel to withdraw, the trial court in December 2015 appointed new counsel to represent defendant.

         ¶ 7 In August 2016, defendant, through postconviction counsel, filed an amended petition, alleging trial counsel provided ineffective assistance by (1) failing to present evidence to rebut the State's theory that whoever bit A.S. also killed her and (2) not allowing defendant to testify at trial despite his request to do so. In that petition, defendant also alleged that appellate counsel provided ineffective assistance. Defendant attached his affidavit to the petition, in which he averred as follows:

"1. I informed my trial counsel, Ms. Karen Root, right before my trial that I wanted to testify in my own defense.
2. Ms. Root told me I 'would get eighty years' if I did testify and that I 'would probably get forty ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.