People v. Coe

Decision Date06 December 2018
Docket NumberNO. 4-17-0359,4-17-0359
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Andrew COE, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

James E. Chadd, Patricia Mysza, and Darrel F. Oman, of State Appellate Defender’s Office, of Chicago, for appellant.

Jason Chambers, State’s Attorney, of Bloomington (Patrick Delfino, David J. Robinson, and James Ryan Williams, of State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, of counsel), for the People.

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

¶ 1 Defendant, Andrew Coe, petitioned for postconviction relief. While his case awaited an evidentiary hearing, he completed his sentence, and consequently, the McLean County circuit court dismissed his petition as moot. Defendant appeals. In our de novo review (see Benz v. Department of Children & Family Services , 2015 IL App (1st) 130414, ¶ 31, 389 Ill.Dec. 695, 27 N.E.3d 187 ), we conclude that, despite his release from custody, defendant still has a personal stake in the outcome of this postconviction proceeding, a stake sufficient to prevent his case from being moot (see In re Marriage of Peters-Farrell , 216 Ill. 2d 287, 291, 296 Ill.Dec. 444, 835 N.E.2d 797 (2005) ). Therefore, we reverse the judgment, and we remand this case for further proceedings.

¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

¶ 3 Defendant filed his petition in January 2009. At that time, he was serving a sentence of 12 years' imprisonment for unlawfully delivering a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school ( 720 ILCS 570/407(b)(1) (West 2006) ). He sought postconviction relief from that judgment for several reasons, including his trial counsel's alleged failure to call alibi witnesses in the jury trial.

¶ 4 After appointing postconviction counsel and hearing testimony, the trial court denied the petition. Defendant appealed.

¶ 5 For two reasons, we reversed the judgment and remanded the case for a new evidentiary hearing ( People v. Coe , 2013 IL App (4th) 110459-U, ¶ 88, 2013 WL 992562 ): (1) the court erroneously believed it lacked discretion to replace the postconviction counsel with new counsel, as defendant had requested ( id. ¶ 1 ), and (2) in deciding to deny the petition for postconviction relief, the court considered extrajudicial information, namely, the postconviction counsel's performance in other cases ( id. ).

¶ 6 On remand, defendant filed motions for continuances as he attempted to obtain private counsel, and the trial court granted the motions. On June 25, 2014, the court granted defendant's sixth motion for a continuance, rescheduling the postconviction proceeding until September 2, 2014.

¶ 7 On September 2, 2014, defendant failed to appear, and the State moved to dismiss the postconviction petition for want of prosecution. The trial court granted the motion.

¶ 8 On October 6, 2014, defendant filed a motion that the trial court (1) deny the State's motion for dismissal for want of prosecution (although, actually, the court already had granted it) and (2) appoint postconviction counsel. The proof of service stated that defendant had placed his motion "in the institutional mail of Stateville Correctional Center" on September 30, 2014.

¶ 9 On November 28, 2016, the trial court held a hearing "on the defendant's motion to *** reinstate the first amended petition for post-conviction relief," as the court construed the motion. Defendant now was represented by appointed postconviction counsel, who argued that defendant's motion to reinstate his petition was timely under the mailbox rule.

¶ 10 The prosecutor disagreed but argued that, in any event, the postconviction petition was moot because defendant had served his prison sentence and his mandatory supervised release had expired.

¶ 11 The trial court responded that the present hearing was merely for the purpose of deciding whether defendant's motion for reinstatement was timely. (Also, defense counsel said he needed time to research the question of mootness.) The court decided that the motion was timely under the mailbox rule because defendant had placed the motion in the institutional mail on September 30, 2014, within 30 days after the dismissal. So, the court scheduled defendant's motion for reinstatement to be heard on January 13, 2015.

¶ 12 That hearing was rescheduled to May 2, 2017, and in that hearing, the State filed a motion to dismiss the postconviction petition as moot. The prosecutor told the trial court he had given a copy of the motion to defense counsel the day before. The motion argued that because defendant had completely served his sentence, including the term of mandatory supervised release, he now lacked standing under section 122-1(a) of the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) ( 725 ILCS 5/122-1(a) (West 2016) ("Any person imprisoned in the penitentiary may institute a proceeding under this Article ***." (Emphasis added.) ).

¶ 13 Before taking up the issue of mootness, the trial court heard testimony from defendant regarding his motion to reinstate his postconviction petition. He explained that on September 26, 2014, he was scheduled to appear in another matter and that he mistakenly believed that his postconviction petition was to be heard on that date instead of on September 2, 2014. In other words, he confused the court dates. After hearing defendant's explanation, the court found that defendant was negligent in missing the hearing of September 2, 2014. Because defendant, however, had filed a motion for reinstatement within 30 days after the dismissal and because the petition had enough potential merit to be in the third stage of the postconviction proceeding, the court decided to grant defendant's motion to reinstate his postconviction petition.

¶ 14 The trial court then heard arguments on the State's motion to dismiss the (reinstated) petition on lack of standing. The court took judicial notice that defendant was discharged from mandatory supervised release on September 4, 2015, as stated in a notification from the Illinois Department of Corrections (Department). Because defendant no longer was suffering any deprivation of liberty as a result of his conviction of unlawful delivery of a controlled substance within 1000 feet of a school, the court concluded, on the authority of People v. Henderson , 2011 IL App (1st) 090923, 356 Ill.Dec. 311, 961 N.E.2d 407, that his petition for postconviction relief had become moot. The court acknowledged the arguably contrary authority of People v. Davis , 39 Ill. 2d 325, 235 N.E.2d 634 (1968), but because that case was "old" and because it established "less than a bright-line rule," the court chose to follow Henderson . Accordingly, the court granted the State's motion to dismiss the petition for postconviction relief.

¶ 15 This appeal followed.

¶ 16 II. ANALYSIS

¶ 17 We decide de novo whether defendant's discharge from the Department's custody renders moot a petition for postconviction relief that he filed while still in custody. See Benz , 2015 IL App (1st) 130414, ¶ 31, 389 Ill.Dec. 695, 27 N.E.3d 187 ("Whether a claim is moot is an issue we review de novo on appeal."). We will begin by discussing the case law that addresses that issue.

¶ 18 A. The Case Law
¶ 19 1. Davis, as Interpreted by Carrera

¶ 20 In Davis , the defendant filed a petition for postconviction relief, and apparently he was in prison at the time of the filing. Davis , 39 Ill. 2d at 327, 235 N.E.2d 634. The trial court appointed counsel to represent him, but by the time the case was heard, almost two years later, the defendant no longer was in prison. Id. (The delay between the filing of the petition and the convening of the hearing was not the defendant's fault. Id. ) Nevertheless, the court went ahead and heard testimony ( id. at 327-28, 235 N.E.2d 634 ), after which the court denied postconviction relief ( id. at 326, 235 N.E.2d 634 ).

¶ 21 The supreme court granted the defendant leave to appeal. Id. On appeal, the State argued that, regardless of the evidentiary merits of the petition, it deserved to be dismissed "because [the defendant] was not incarcerated at the time the cause was heard." Id. at 328, 235 N.E.2d 634. The State relied on the wording of section 122-1 ( id. at 328-29, 235 N.E.2d 634 ), which, like the present version of section 122-1(a) ( 725 ILCS 5/122-1(a) (West 2016) ), made imprisonment a condition of "institut[ing] a proceeding under this Article." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1965, ch. 38, § 122-1. The statute read: "Any person imprisoned in the penitentiary who asserts that in the proceedings which resulted in his conviction there was a substantial denial of his [constitutional] rights *** may institute a proceeding under this Article." Id. The supreme court rejected the State's interpretation of section 122-1 and gave the following explanation for doing so:

"As there are obvious advantages in purging oneself of the stigma and disabilities which attend a criminal conviction, we see no reason to so narrowly construe this remedial statute as to preclude the remedy in every case in which the petition is not filed and the hearing completed before imprisonment ends." (Emphasis added.) Davis , 39 Ill. 2d at 329, 235 N.E.2d 634.

Because that sentence is rather vaguely hedged, we can understand why the trial court in the present case would regard Davis as establishing "less than a bright-line rule." What does "not in every case" mean? Davis does not explain in what cases the remedy would and would not be precluded if imprisonment ended before the petition was filed or the hearing was held.

¶ 22 Later, however, in People v. Carrera , 239 Ill. 2d 241, 246, 346 Ill.Dec. 507, 940 N.E.2d 1111 (2010), the supreme court provided definitive clarification, interpreting Davis as follows: " ‘imprisoned in the penitentiary’ has been held to include defendants who have been released from incarceration after timely filing their petition ( People v. Davis , 39 Ill. 2d 325, 235 N.E.2d 634 (1968)...

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5 cases
  • People v. Johnson
    • United States
    • Illinois Supreme Court
    • April 15, 2021
    ...the statutory condition of being "imprisoned in the penitentiary" when he instituted the postconviction proceedings. See People v. Coe , 2018 IL App (4th) 170359, ¶ 43, 427 Ill.Dec. 585, 118 N.E.3d 1256. ¶ 33 We acknowledge that standing is ordinarily an affirmative defense that must be ple......
  • People v. Munz
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • October 14, 2021
    ...from the Department's custody renders moot a petition for postconviction relief that he filed while still in custody." People v. Coe , 2018 IL App (4th) 170359, ¶ 17, 427 Ill.Dec. 585, 118 N.E.3d 1256. ¶ 15 Here, there is no dispute that defendant was, in fact, "imprisoned in the penitentia......
  • People v. Kwiatkowski
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • May 20, 2021
    ...under the Act only if he was "imprisoned in the penitentiary" when he instituted the postconviction proceedings. See People v. Coe, 2018 IL App (4th) 170359, ¶ 43, 118 N.E.3d 1256. A petitioner loses standing to institute proceedings under the Act if he is not a "person imprisoned in the pe......
  • Charles A. v. Daniel B. (In re A.N.B.)
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • September 13, 2021
    ...of statutory conditions in order to sue for legislatively created relief [citation]." People v. Coe, 2018 IL App (4th) 170359, ¶ 43, 118 N.E.3d 1256; see also People Johnson, 2021 IL 125738, ¶ 31 (same). ¶ 17 The first question presented on appeal is whether Bonita had statutory standing to......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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