Supreme Court Summaries


Opinions filed October 3, 2013


 

People v. Hale, 2013 IL 113140

Appellate citation: 2011 IL App (1st) 090110-U.

 

      JUSTICE KARMEIER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

 

      In 2001, a vehicle with a passenger inside was fired at approximately eight times by another motorist on the expressway. The driver who was fired at positively identified this defendant several times as the shooter. The passenger in the fired-at car was seriously injured, but she, also, identified the defendant as the shooter from a photo array. A Cook County jury found the defendant guilty of two counts of attempted murder, and, for this, consecutive sentences were imposed, as statute makes mandatory. The defendant was sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment for the attempted murder of the passenger and to a consecutive 10-year term for shooting at the driver.

      Later the defendant would claim that he would have accepted a plea bargain rather than go to trial if he had known he could receive consecutive sentences, and he blamed his trial attorney for failure to so advise him, claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. The appellate court reversed and remanded for the resumption of plea negotiations, but the supreme court did not agree and affirmed the results reached in the circuit court. The supreme court found that the defendant failed to show he was prejudiced as an element of his claim of denial of the constitutional right to counsel.

      At a hearing held on this issue, the record showed that the defendant had hoped to prove he was actually innocent and wanted to go to trial. The circuit court found that the defendant’s statements to the contrary were incredible. The defendant had called a witness to testify that she had been riding in his car and that her now-deceased boyfriend, who had been with her then, was the shooter. This was contrary to, and a recantation of, a signed statement she had given to authorities after the incident. In addition, the fired-at driver testified that he had been offered money, by one claiming to be a friend of the defendant, to recant his incriminatory version of events. All of this indicated that any alleged inaccurate sentencing advice given by defense counsel was not the reason why Hale did not enter into a plea agreement.

      The supreme court, in this decision, ruled that the view taken by the circuit court was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. The supreme court said that a record which shows rejection of a plea offer that was not based on alleged erroneous sentencing advice, but on other considerations, does not establish the prejudice which must be shown in order to establish a constitutional claim of ineffective assistance of defense counsel.

      The circuit court judgment was upheld and the appellate court was reversed.