Supreme Court Summaries

Opinions filed February 22, 2013




People v. Somers, 2013 IL 114054

Appellate citation: No. 4-10-0869 (summary order under Supreme Court Rule 23).


      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 this Livingston County case, the defendant, charged with five counts of burglary, pled guilty in 2009 and received a sentence of 2 years’ probation and 180 days in jail. He was ordered to pay a public defender fee of $200 after the judge questioned him about his employment. This fee would reimburse the county for the cost of appointed counsel. Later, in 2010, he was sentenced to six years in prison after having been found to have violated his probation. In his appeal, Somers contended that the hearing on his ability to pay the public defender fee had been inadequate, but he later also argued that it was now too late for a remand for a proper hearing because the applicable statute calls for a hearing within 90 days of judgment. He thus argued that no hearing could be held at all and that the fee should be vacated. The appellate court remanded for a new hearing anyway and this appeal followed.

      In this decision, the supreme court held that the perfunctory hearing that was held had indeed been inadequate and that the defendant was entitled to a new hearing of the quality set forth by statute. However, the supreme court refused to hold, as requested by the defendant, that it was now too late to hold any hearing at all in order to impose a public defender fee. There is no reason why the trial court’s error should be uncorrectable on appeal, and the issue of whether the statute’s 90-day time limit is mandatory or directory is not presented by the facts of this case. The appellate court’s remand was affirmed.