People v. Kuehner

In 2005, the then-17-year-old defendant entered an open guilty plea to attempted first degree murder and home invasion. In 2007, he moved to withdraw that plea, alleging deficient advice and representation. The trial court denied the motion and sentenced defendant to two consecutive terms of 17½ years in prison. In 2009, defendant filed a pro se petition, alleging that he was denied his right to effective assistance of both trial and appellate counsel by failure to investigate defendant’s history of mental illness and telling defendant, defendant’s mother, and defendant’s aunt “lies” in order to “force” a guilty plea. The alleged lies included telling defendant that he would receive a sentence of between 12 and 20 years if he pleaded guilty; stating that defendant’s family had not paid enough to go to trial; and hiding exculpatory police and medical reports. Defendant alleged that appellate counsel was ineffective for failing to raise trial counsel’s ineffectiveness on direct appeal. The trial court held that the petition “is not frivolous or patently without merit,” docketed second-stage proceedings, and appointed counsel. Three years later, appointed counsel moved to withdraw, stating that the issues raised wre without merit and unsupportable as a matter of law. The trial court granted counsel’s motion to withdraw and dismissed. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed: If a pro se postconviction petition advances to the second stage on the basis of an affirmative judicial determination that it is neither frivolous nor patently without merit, appointed counsel’s motion to withdraw must contain at least some explanation as to why all of the claims in that petition are so lacking in legal and factual support as to compel withdrawal. The motion filed in this case failed to meet this standard. View "People v. Kuehner" on Justia Law