Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed January 20, 2012





People v. Gutierrez, 2012 IL 111590

Appellate citation: 405 Ill. App. 3d 1000.


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

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


      In the circuit court of Lake County, Elias Gutierrez pled guilty in 2007 to predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and received a 20-year sentence. In seeking review in the appellate court, he challenged various fines and fees which had been imposed. The one at issue here is the $250 public defender fee.

      Section 113-3.1(a) of the Code of Criminal Procedure requires notice to the defendant and a hearing on his ability to pay before the public defender fee allowed by law may be imposed. Here, no such procedure was followed. In Gutierrez’s appeal, the appellate court vacated the fee and ordered a remand for notice and a hearing concerning ability to pay. The defendant appealed. He claimed that the fee should have been vacated outright by the appellate court, without any remand.

      In this decision, the supreme court agreed, because no motion to impose the fee had been made by the prosecution and it had not been sought by the circuit court itself. Thus, there was no reason to conduct a hearing on ability to pay. The circuit court clerk had imposed the fee unilaterally, without any authority for doing so. This was improper and had to be vacated. The appellate court was reversed insofar as it had remanded.