from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County No. 14CF602 The
Honorable Nancy S. Fahey Judge Presiding.
Attorneys for Appellant: James E. Chadd, John M. McCarthy,
and Mariah K. Shaver, of State Appellate Defender's
Office, of Springfield, for appellant.
Attorneys for Appellee: Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson,
and Allison Paige Brooks, of State's Attorneys Appellate
Prosecutor's Office, of Springfield, for the People.
JUSTICE STEIGMANN delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Knecht and Turner concurred in the judgment
1 In December 2014, the State charged defendant, Dustin J.
Lawson, with one count of armed robbery and one count of
attempt (armed robbery). 720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 18-2(a)(1) (West
2012). Following defendant's conviction and sentence,
defendant appealed to this court raising numerous issues. In
pertinent part, defendant argued that the trial court failed
to conduct a Krankel inquiry into his pro
se claims of ineffective assistance of counsel. See
People v. Krankel, 102 Ill.2d 181 464 N.E.2d 1045
(1984). This court agreed and remanded for a Krankel
hearing. People v. Lawson, 2017 IL App (4th)
150590-U, ¶ 29. On remand, the trial court declined to
appoint new counsel because it concluded that "the
matters were of trial strategy and that there's no merit
to the allegations."
2 Defendant appeals, arguing in pertinent part that the trial
court erred by not appointing him new counsel. The State
argues that (1) this court lacks jurisdiction and (2)
defendant was not entitled to new counsel.
3 We conclude that (1) this court has jurisdiction and (2)
defendant was entitled to new counsel because his allegations
could support a claim of ineffective assistance of counsel.
Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 6; People v.
Roddis, 2018 IL App (4th) 170605, ¶ 77, 119 N.E.3d
52. Accordingly, we remand for further proceedings.
4 I. BACKGROUND
5 A. Defendant's Trial
6 In December 2014, the State charged defendant with one
count of armed robbery and one count of attempt (armed
robbery). 720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 18-2(a)(1) (West 2012). At
defendant's jury trial, the State's evidence
consisted primarily of Leroy Harmon's testimony. Harmon,
the clerk working at Walgreens on the night of the alleged
robbery, testified that on December 6, 2014, defendant
approached him, displayed a knife, and demanded money from
the cash register. Harmon stated that defendant ran out of
the store because he was unable to open the cash register.
Harmon also testified that he did not know defendant and had
never seen him prior to this incident. Ultimately, the jury
found defendant guilty of both counts.
7 B. The Pro Se Claims
8 Prior to his sentencing hearing, defendant mailed a letter
to the trial court, claiming that he and Harmon knew each
other and that Harmon lied at trial. Defendant stated that
Craig Sullivan had introduced him to Harmon in October 2014.
Defendant further stated that he and Harmon had spoken many
times since then. Defendant further claimed that he informed
his attorney about this before trial but that counsel replied
that it was counsel's decision to determine what evidence
to present and he chose not to present this evidence.
9 In May 2015, the trial court conducted a sentencing
hearing. At this hearing, defendant informed the trial court
that his attorney told him, "[S]ometimes you must plead
guilty to things you don't do." Defendant repeated
his assertion that he knew Harmon and that Harmon had lied at
trial. Defendant stated that he made "the biggest
mistake of [his] life" by not testifying on his own
10 The trial court did not inquire further into
defendant's claims and sentenced him to 15 years in
11 C. Defendant's First Appeal
12 In defendant's first appeal, he raised numerous
arguments. As relevant here, defendant argued that the trial
court failed to conduct a Krankel hearing about his
pro se claims of ineffective assistance of counsel.
The State conceded that the trial court should have conducted
a Krankel hearing and agreed that the case should be
13 In December 2017, this court accepted the State's
concession and remanded the case for a Krankel
hearing. Lawson, 2017 IL App (4th) 150590-U,
¶¶ 21, 29-31. Due to this limited remand, this
court declined to address defendant's other arguments
because, "[d]epending on the result of the
Krankel hearing, those other issues may become
moot." Id. ¶ 29. This court did not
explicitly state that it was retaining jurisdiction to review
the proceedings following remand. See id.
14 D. The Proceedings on Remand
15 In June 2018, the trial court on remand conducted a
Krankel hearing. Defendant's trial attorney was
also present. At the hearing, the following exchange occurred
between defendant and the trial court:
"THE COURT: Okay. So you've raised the issue of
ineffective assistance of counsel and I'm just gonna let
you tell me what these attorneys in your mind did not do
THE DEFENDANT: One of my biggest issues was towards trial,
before we started trial I did bring up that I had a witness
that was willing to testify against the witness, the only
witness on this case, and I believe I had this conversation
with [my attorney]. At the time he told me that he thought
there would be other ways to attack the witness's
credibility, thus being that my witness had a background. My
argument was my witness was related through not marriage but
his sister has children with the victim's brother and he
introduced me to the victim months beforehand the incident
even happened. My argument was if he was willing to lie about
that, the foundation of everything, then what else was he
willing to lie about? So when I brought it up to [my
attorney], he told me, like I said, you know, we have other
ways to attack credibility. That never happened. You know, I
had the statements written up, Your Honor. ***
THE COURT: Okay.
THE DEFENDANT: You know, was I ignorant to the law? Yeah, I
didn't really know a lot of ...