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People v. MacTaggart

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

September 16, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
SCOTT A. MacTAGGART, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Whiteside County, Illinois Circuit No. 13-CF-365 Honorable Stanley B. Steines, Judge, Presiding

          Attorneys for Appellant: James E. Chadd, Pater A. Carusona, and James Wozniak, of State Appellate Defender's Office, of Ottawa, for appellant

          Attorneys for Appellee: Terry A. Costello, State's Attorney, of Morrison (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and Thomas D. Arado, of State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor's Office, of counsel), for the People.

          JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Carter concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Holdridge dissented, with opinion.

          OPINION

          O'BRIEN JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant Scott MacTaggart was charged with criminal sexual assault and one count of sexual relations within families. The trial court appointed the public defender to represent MacTaggart. After $25, 000 bond was posted on MacTaggart's behalf, the trial court dismissed the public defender, finding MacTaggart was not indigent. MacTaggart proceeded to trial with private counsel and was convicted by the jury and sentenced to a nine-year term of imprisonment. He appeals his conviction. We vacate MacTaggart's conviction, reverse, and remand.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Defendant Scott MacTaggart was charged with one count of criminal sexual assault and one count of sexual relations within families. 720 ILCS 5/11-1.20(a)(2), 11-11 (West 2014). He was arrested on January 7, 2014, and the court set his bond at $250, 000, with 10% to apply. MacTaggart submitted a financial affidavit that indicated he was unemployed, with monthly expenses of more than $1000 and assets of $17, 106, which included his vehicle, checking account balance, household contents, personal property, and cash on hand and liabilities of $15, 000, consisting of his vehicle loan. The trial court found MacTaggart was indigent and appointed the public defender to represent him.

         ¶ 4 On January 10, 2014, the public defender entered an appearance on MacTaggart's behalf. Also on January 10, MacTaggart's mother posted bond. On January 16, 2014, MacTaggart waived his right to a preliminary hearing, was arraigned, and entered a not guilty plea. The trial court entered several pretrial orders. Thereafter, discovery took place. On February 27, 2014, the State filed a motion to reconsider the appointment of the public defender, arguing that MacTaggart's financial circumstances had changed since the court appointed the public defender.

         ¶ 5 A hearing took place on the State's motion. The trial court and public defender determined that MacTaggart should proceed pro se, and the appointed public defender, although present, did not represent MacTaggart at the hearing. The State argued that because a $25, 000 bond was posted, MacTaggart could not be considered indigent and had the $25, 000 available to obtain private counsel. MacTaggart informed the court that he needed the public defender, he personally had no money, he had not obtained the bond money himself, and he could not afford an attorney.

         ¶ 6 The trial court reviewed MacTaggart's financial affidavit and noted that he had no income but did have expenses. However, it determined that it could properly consider the "ability to get credit from a bank or the availability to get credit from friends and family" in deciding whether MacTaggart was indigent, noting it was "obvious" to the court that MacTaggart had "the resources available to him, the availability to get loans from friends or family." The trial court dismissed the public defender, finding MacTaggart was not indigent since he was able to secure the $25, 000 bond. The court questioned MacTaggart as to how long he would need to obtain counsel, to which MacTaggart replied that he did not know because he had no funds to pay for counsel. The trial court instructed MacTaggart to inform a potential attorney that there was $25, 000 bond potentially available to pay attorney fees. MacTaggart thereafter hired private counsel, who filed an appearance and a motion for bond assignment, seeking $15, 000 of the bond.

         ¶ 7 A jury trial took place, and the jury found MacTaggart guilty of both charged offenses. A sentencing hearing was held on April 8, 2016. The State sought a nine-year sentence and fines of $25, 000, in addition to other fines and fees. The defense asked for the statutory minimum sentences and reminded the court that counsel's only source of compensation was the bond amount and a $25, 000 fine as requested by the State would take his entire compensation. MacTaggart did not address the court. The court imposed a nine-year term of imprisonment, with an indefinite mandatory supervised release (MSR) term of three years to natural life, and fines and fees in the amount of $16, 684. The court found MacTaggart to be a sex offender and required to comply with the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) (730 ILCS 150/1 et seq. (West 2016)).

         ¶ 8 MacTaggart moved to reconsider his sentence and for a new trial. A hearing took place. The trial court denied MacTaggart's motion for a new trial, granted his motion to reconsider the sentence, and vacated the $10, 000 fine, leaving an amount due of $6684. On September 26, 2016, MacTaggart filed an untimely notice of appeal. He completed a financial affidavit indicating he had no assets, no income, and monthly expenses of $400. The trial court appointed the appellate defender to represent MacTaggart on appeal. On October 13, 2016, appellate ...


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