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People v. Ames

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

August 22, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
CORNELIUS AMES, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County No. 01CF1027 Honorable Leslie J. Graves, Judge Presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: James E. Chadd, Patricia Mysza, and Elizabeth A. Botti, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

          Attorneys for Appellee: Daniel K. Wright, State's Attorney, of Springfield (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Luke McNeill, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          JUSTICE TURNER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Holder White and Justice Steigmann concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          TURNER, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 In April 2016, defendant, Cornelius Ames, filed his second motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition. The State filed a response, asserting the motion should be denied. In November 2016, defendant filed a supplement to his second motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition. That same month, the Sangamon County circuit court heard arguments on defendant's motion, and the court took the matter under advisement. In December 2016, the court entered an order denying defendant's second motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition. Defendant filed a motion to reconsider, which the court denied in July 2017. Defendant appeals, contending the circuit court erred by allowing the State to respond to his second motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition. We affirm.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 In November 2001, the State charged defendant with one count of home invasion (720 ILCS 5/12-11(a)(1) (West 2000) (text of section eff. June 1, 2001)), one count of aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4(a) (West 2000)), and four counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-14(a)(2), (a)(3) (West 2000)) for his actions on November 5, 2001. A jury found defendant guilty as charged, and the circuit court sentenced him to consecutive prison terms of 28 years for home invasion and 6 years each on two of the counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault.

         ¶ 4 Defendant appealed and asserted the following: (1) evidence of another crime deprived him of a fair trial and (2) trial counsel rendered ineffective assistance by failing to object to prior consistent statements by the victim. We affirmed defendant's convictions and sentences. People v. Ames, 356 Ill.App.3d 1145, 889 N.E.2d 815 (2005) (table) (unpublished order under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23). Defendant filed a petition for leave to appeal, which the supreme court denied. People v. Ames, 216 Ill.2d 694, 839 N.E.2d 1026 (2005) (supervisory order).

         ¶ 5 In September 2005, defendant filed pro se a petition for postconviction relief, raising numerous claims of ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel, as well as a claim he was denied his right to be confronted with the witnesses against him. One of his ineffective assistance of counsel claims was based on defense counsel's failure to move for independent expert analysis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) removed from the scene. Another claim related to counsel's alleged refusal to allow defendant to testify at trial. The petition advanced to the second stage of the proceedings, and the State filed a motion to dismiss defendant's postconviction petition. After a September 2006 hearing, the circuit court granted the State's motion to dismiss. Defendant appealed, and this court affirmed the dismissal. People v. Ames, 379 Ill.App.3d 1089, 957 N.E.2d 594 (2008) (table) (unpublished order under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23). Defendant filed a petition for leave to appeal, which the supreme court denied. People v. Ames, 229 Ill.2d 629, 897 N.E.2d 255 (2008) (supervisory order).

         ¶ 6 In September 2012, defendant filed his first motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition, which the circuit court denied but allowed defendant to file an amended motion. In January 2013, defendant filed an amended motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition, asserting, inter alia, his sentences for aggravated criminal sexual assault violated the proportionate penalty clause. Defendant also mentioned the State's DNA evidence and noted he would like to file a motion for forensic testing. After a May 2013 hearing, the court denied defendant's amended motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition. Defendant appealed, and this court affirmed the circuit court's denial. People v. Ames, No. 4-13-0474 (Aug. 24, 2015) (unpublished summary order under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 23(c)).

         ¶ 7 Defendant filed a second motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition in April 2016. The next month, the State filed a response to defendant's motion, asserting the motion should be denied. On November 9, 2016, defendant filed a supplement to the second motion for leave to file a successive postconviction petition. Seven days later, the circuit court held a hearing on defendant's second motion to file a successive postconviction petition and its supplement. The court allowed the State to make arguments at the hearing. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court took the matter under advisement. In a December 5, 2016, docket entry, the court denied defendant's motion, noting defendant failed to establish cause for failing to raise this issue in his initial postconviction petition. The court also noted defendant did not file an affidavit in support of his claim.

         ¶ 8 On January 3, 2017, defendant filed a motion to reconsider the circuit court's denial of his second motion to file a successive postconviction petition. The circuit court held a hearing on defendant's motion on July 12, 2017. The prosecutor was again present at the hearing and argued defendant's motion to reconsider should be denied. At the conclusion of the hearing, the court denied defendant's motion to reconsider.

         ¶ 9 On August 3, 2017, defendant filed a timely notice of appeal in sufficient compliance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 606 (eff. July 1, 2017). See Ill. S.Ct. R. 651(d) (eff. July 1, 2017) (providing the procedure for appeals in postconviction proceedings is in accordance with the rules governing criminal appeals). Thus, we have ...


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