Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed April 19, 2012

People v. Dominguez, 2012 IL 111336

Appellate citation: No. 1-09-0125 (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

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

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

      Justice Burke dissented, with opinion, joined by Chief Justice Kilbride and Justice Freeman.

      In this Cook County case, a Spanish speaking defendant, who was represented by counsel and accompanied by an interpreter at his court appearances, pled guilty in 2007 to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child. He received a 16-year term. There were no postplea motions, and, over three months later, he filed a pro se notice of appeal. The appellate court dismissed it for failure to file the proper postplea motions which were necessary to challenge the guilty plea and to perfect his right to appeal. Complaining of inadequate postplea admonishments, the defendant appealed to the supreme court.

      Supreme Court Rule 604(d) states that “[n]o appeal from a judgment entered upon a plea of guilty shall be taken unless the defendant, within 30 days *** files in the trial court *** a motion to withdraw the plea of guilty and vacate the judgment.” Complementing this and as a corollary to it, Rule 605(c) states that a trial court imposing sentence on a plea of guilty “shall advise the defendant substantially *** that prior to taking an appeal the defendant must file *** within 30 days *** a written motion asking to have the judgment vacated and for leave to withdraw the plea of guilty.”

      In this decision, the supreme court held that Rule 605(c), in requiring an admonishment, must be strictly complied with, but, as stated in the rule itself, a defendant need only be “substantially” advised of the contents of Rule 605(c) and it need not be read to him verbatim.

      The trial court in this case admonished the defendant that he had a “right to return to the courtroom within 30 days to file motions to vacate your plea of guilty ***. In the event the motions are denied, you have 30 days *** to file a notice of appeal.” The defendant signed an English language form which recited the entire Rule 605(c) almost verbatim, and told the court that he understood it.

      Although the record failed to reflect that this complete form was read to the defendant by the interpreter or translated by the court reporter, the supreme court held that Rule 605(c) had been substantially complied with and that the appellate court did not err in dismissing the appeal.