Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed December 30, 2011


People v. Patrick, 2011 IL 111666

Appellate citation: 406 Ill. App. 3d 548.

      CHIEF JUSTICE KILBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

      Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

      On May 20, 2007, a fatal accident occurred in North Chicago. At an intersection, a speeding car killed the driver of a vehicle and injured her three passengers. On February 27, 2008, a Lake County jury found this defendant guilty of reckless homicide. He was sentenced on May 16, 2008, to nine years for this offense, and this conviction survived his appeal to the appellate court, which vacated or reduced other lesser charges of which he also had been found guilty. Those matters are not at issue here.

      This appeal requires a determination of whether a trial court may refuse to conduct any inquiry into the factual basis of pro se posttrial motions alleging ineffective assistance of counsel based on a finding that those motions are untimely. In this case, a motion to reconsider sentence had been filed on June 10, 2008, and, while it was pending, on June 24, 2008, Patrick filed a pro se motion for appointment of counsel outside the office of the public defender and also a pro se amended motion for a new trial. This was 118 days after the guilty verdict. Various claims of ineffective assistance by the appointed trial attorney were made. When the circuit court subsequently took up the issue of sentence reconsideration, it said that the pro se motions were untimely because not filed within 30 days of the verdict as required by the Code of Criminal Procedure on new trial motions. It made no inquiry into the allegations of ineffective assistance. The defendant appealed.

      On November 23, 2010, the appellate court ruled that the circuit court should not have dismissed Patrick’s pro se requests as untimely, but was required to inquire into his pro se allegations of ineffective assistance by holding a hearing pursuant to the principles announced in People v. Krankel, 102 Ill. 2d 181 (1984). A remand was ordered for this purpose, and the State appealed.

      Krankel principles provide a common law remedy that has been developed by Illinois jurisprudence for circumstances where pro se claims show possible neglect by counsel. The remedy may include a new trial, but is not limited to this. The State contended that the issue here is governed by the statute providing for the timing of when a motion for a new trial is to be filed, but the supreme court held here that this statute should not apply. Here, the pro se motions preceded the notices of appeal which were filed. A preliminary inquiry should be conducted on remand into the facts underlying the defendant’s allegations. The appellate court’s judgment was affirmed.