People v. Hobson, No. 1-06-2575.

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Writing for the CourtJoseph Gordon
Citation897 N.E.2d 421
Docket NumberNo. 1-06-2575.
Decision Date14 November 2008
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Russell HOBSON, Defendant-Appellant.
897 N.E.2d 421
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Russell HOBSON, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 1-06-2575.
Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division.
November 14, 2008.

[897 N.E.2d 422]

Michael J. Pelletier, Deputy Defender, Stephanie A. Fisher, Assistant Appellate Defender, Chicago, IL, for Appellant.

Richard A. Devine, State's Attorney, Cook County, James E. Fitzgerald, Peter Fisher, and Kathleen Warnick, Assistant State's Attorneys, of Counsel, Chicago, IL, for Appellees.

Justice JOSEPH GORDON delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, Russell Hobson, who was charged and convicted of first degree murder, appeals from the second-stage dismissal of his successive petition for relief under the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West 2000)). He contends that the circuit court erred in dismissing his petition without an evidentiary hearing, where he made a substantial showing of ineffective assistance of counsel because (1) counsel failed to adequately communicate with him and provide him with discovery materials that he requested prior to trial and (2) counsel precluded

897 N.E.2d 423

him from exercising his right to a jury trial. For the reasons that follow, we affirm.


Defendant was charged with two counts of first degree murder for the fatal shooting of Donald Horton, which occurred on March 6, 1998. Count I charged defendant with committing intentional first degree murder (see 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(1) (West 1992)), and count II charged him with unjustifiably killing the victim "knowing that such a shooting created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm" (see 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2) (West 1992)).

Prior to trial, on October 20, 1998, the trial court informed defendant of the charges against him and the possible sentences if he were found guilty. The trial court told defendant that he was entitled to a jury trial and then explained to defendant the difference between a jury and bench trial. The court asked defendant if he understood and defendant replied in the affirmative. The trial court then asked defendant how he wanted to be tried, and defendant requested a bench trial. The following colloquy then took place between the trial court and defendant:

"THE COURT: Did you discuss this matter with your lawyer?

[Defendant]: Yes.

THE COURT: Anybody forced you to give up your right to a jury trial?

[Defendant]: No.

THE COURT: Anybody threatened you to make you give up your right to a jury trial?

[Defendant]: No.

THE COURT: Anybody promise you anything to get you to give up your right to a jury trial?

[Defendant]: No.

THE COURT: All right. If I tell you right now, Mr. Hobson, I don't know if you have been told by anybody that I'm leaning one way or the other on your case, but I will tell you right now I'm not. I know virtually nothing about the fact of your case. The only thing I know about the fact of your case is what I just read to you what you are charged with. That's literally all I know. I haven't made up my mind one way or the other, and I have no opinion at all as to the facts of your case because I know none of them.

Do you understand that?

[Defendant]: Yes.

* * *

THE COURT: Jury waiver will be accepted."

At trial, the following pertinent facts were adduced. Vernon Spears testified on behalf of the State that on March 6, 1998, at about 11:15 or 11:20 p.m., he was on the corner of 55th Street and Lake Park in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood attempting to hail a taxi. Spears testified that he observed a Yellow Cab driven by defendant going south towards 55th Street. Spears then stated that he entered defendant's cab, sat in the backseat on the driver's side behind defendant, closed the door and told defendant where to drive him.

According to Spears, at that point another person, later identified as Donald Horton, the victim, approached the taxi. Spears testified that Horton stood at the curb, bent down to look into the cab through the front passenger window and asked defendant if he could take him where he wanted to go. According to Spears, Horton crouched and put his face partially inside the taxi, resting his arms on the bottom of the window. Spears testified that defendant then responded

897 N.E.2d 424

that he already had a fare, but that he would try to come back and pick up Horton. According to Spears, Horton then asked defendant about sharing a ride, and defendant asked Spears if he was "ok with this." Spears responded that he did not want to share the ride because it was very late at night.

According to Spears, at that point, defendant told Horton that he could not take him anywhere and told him to get away from the cab, but Horton refused. Spears testified that he then saw defendant make a jerking motion and "move to the side a bit." He stated that Horton then began an argument with defendant. Spears testified that Horton told defendant: "You got a gun? I bet you got a gun." Spears also heard Horton tell defendant that he was not afraid to die, and then: "Go ahead pop me. Why don't you pop me? Just pop me."

Spears testified that he did not see any sort of weapon in Horton's hands and that throughout the argument Horton continued to stand perched inside the front passenger side window with his arms resting on the bottom of the window. Spears also averred that Horton did not reach into the cab nor make any motions as if reaching into his pocket or waistband. Spears stated that Horton did not threaten anyone and that he did not appear to be drunk.

According to Spears, after Horton told defendant to "just pop [him]," defendant reached down, pulled out a gun and pointed the gun "right in front of" Horton's face and shot him. Spears said that at that point he tried to get out of the taxi, but defendant turned around to him and said, "I'll get you home now." According to Spears, defendant then sped off in the cab going west on 55th Street. Spears implored defendant to stop, but defendant continued to drive and turned a corner. Soon thereafter, the taxi ran into a police vehicle and defendant was arrested.

On cross-examination, Spears acknowledged that he had a cocktail before entering the cab and that he chose to take a taxi because he was afraid to walk alone at night in that neighborhood. Spears also acknowledged that there was a thick partition that went from the top of the front seat all the way to the roof of the car that divided the backseat from the front seat where defendant was driving. Spears stated that when Horton asked to share a ride with him, he was reluctant because he was frightened. Specifically, Spears averred that at that point he did not know what was going on and feared that he was "being set up for a ripoff." Spears also testified on cross-examination that Horton was wearing a jacket and the he could not see what was underneath it.

Daniel Son Wang next testified that on the night of March 6, 1998, he was in his car heading south on Lake Park Street when he noticed a Yellow Cab in front of him parked on the corner of 55th Street. Wang testified that he particularly noticed the taxi because the light in that intersection was green and the cab was not moving. Wang stated that as he approached the taxi he observed that there were two people inside the vehicle and one standing outside. According to Wang, by the time he pulled up right directly behind the cab, the light turned red, and he was forced to stand behind it waiting for the signal change.

Wang stated that he then observed what appeared to him to be an argument between the person standing outside the taxicab and the driver. Wang could not hear anything and could not tell exactly what was going on, but it appeared to him that the person standing outside had either just come from inside the cab or was trying to get into it. Wang testified that

897 N.E.2d 425

at one point he observed an arm extend from the taxi and heard a shot. He then saw the person standing outside the cab fall to the ground. According to Wang, the taxi quickly made a right turn onto 55th Street going west, but was quickly stopped by a police car that was already on 55th Street. Wang testified that he exited his vehicle and ran toward the person on the ground and waited for help. Wang stated that the victim did not have a weapon on him. He also testified that he never saw the victim waving his hands around, nor pointing at the driver or reaching into the cab. At trial, Wang identified the victim from a photograph as Daniel Horton.

On cross-examination, Wang acknowledged that the person standing outside the cab was screaming and appeared to be very angry.

Officer Roman Csyrgryn testified that on March 6, 1998, at approximately 11:20 p.m., he was parked in his squad car facing east on 55th Street approximately 100 feet from Lake Park Street. Officer Csyrgryn testified that he heard a popping noise which he initially thought was a firecracker. After a few minutes, Officer Csyrgryn observed a man running towards him from the northwest corner. The man approached the officer and told him that "someone in a cab had just shot an individual on the street and that the cab was now westbound on 55th Street." Officer Csyrgryn testified that he then radioed Officer Balcar, whom he knew to be in the general vicinity of where the taxi was heading, and told her to be on the lookout for it.

Officer Csyrgryn stated that he then made a U-turn with his car and proceeded in the general direction of where he was told the cab went. Soon thereafter, Officer Csyrgryn observed a police vehicle in pursuit of a taxi, and he followed them. According to Officer Csyrgryn the taxi eventually stopped in the 5600 block of Kimbark. At that point, both he and Officer Balcar exited their respective vehicles and approached the cab. According to Officer Csyrgryn, he then asked the cab driver, whom he identified as defendant in this case, to exit the vehicle and performed a...

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9 cases
  • People v. Vincent K. (In re Vincent K.), Docket No. 1–11–2915.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 10 Enero 2014
    ...stage, where an indigent defendant is provided assistance by counsel. People v. Hobson, 386 Ill.App.3d 221, 230–31, 325 Ill.Dec. 173, 897 N.E.2d 421 (2008). At the second stage, the petition under consideration must make a substantial showing of a constitutional violation or be subject to a......
  • People v. Valladares, Docket No. 1–11–2010.
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 24 Julio 2013
    ...of counsel may exist where counsel failed to communicate with defendant. People v. Hobson, 386 Ill.App.3d 221, 239, 325 Ill.Dec. 173, 897 N.E.2d 421 (2008) (citing People v. Smith, 268 Ill.App.3d 574, 578–79, 206 Ill.Dec. 308, 645 N.E.2d 313 (1994)). The sixth amendment requires defense cou......
  • People of The State of Ill. v. ENGLISH, 1-08-1868.
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    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • 9 Julio 2010
    ...not at issue, postconviction petitions are adjudicated in three stages. People v. Hobson, 386 Ill.App.3d 221, 230-31, 325 Ill.Dec. 173, 897 N.E.2d 421 (2008). If a petition is not summarily dismissed by the trial court, it advances to the second stage, where an indigent defendant is provide......
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