People v. Ladd, 5-96-0006

CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois
Citation691 N.E.2d 896,294 Ill.App.3d 928
Docket NumberNo. 5-96-0006,5-96-0006
Parties, 229 Ill.Dec. 423 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Leroy LADD, Defendant-Appellant.
Decision Date11 March 1998

Page 896

691 N.E.2d 896
294 Ill.App.3d 928, 229 Ill.Dec. 423
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Leroy LADD, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 5-96-0006.
Appellate Court of Illinois,
Fifth District.
March 11, 1998.

Page 899

[229 Ill.Dec. 426] Daniel M. Kirwan, Deputy Defender, Michelle A. Zalisko, Assistant Defender, Paige Strawn, Third Year Law Student, Office of the State Appellate Defender, Mt. Vernon, for Defendant-Appellant.

Robert B. Haida, State's Attorney, Belleville, Norbert J. Goetten, Director, Stephen E. Norris, Deputy Director, Paul B. Linton, Contractual Attorney, Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Mt. Vernon, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Justice KUEHN delivered the opinion of the court:

On April 9, 1995, defendant attacked his paramour with a knife. The police took him to jail that same day. He has been locked up ever since.

[294 Ill.App.3d 929] Defendant stood trial on October 17, 1995. The jury deliberated to verdict the next day. It acquitted defendant of attempted murder but reached guilty verdicts on accompanying aggravated battery and armed violence charges. Defendant now serves four- and twelve-year concurrent prison terms imposed on the two guilty verdicts.

This appeal examines the 191 days from defendant's arrest to trial's commencement. We are asked to overturn defendant's convictions because he waited longer than 120 days in jail before trial began.

Here is a recapitulation of the relevant events that occurred during defendant's jail stay awaiting trial:

April 9, 1995 State places defendant in custody.

May 5, 1995 Defendant waives preliminary hearing.

May 19, 1995 St. Clair County grand jury indicts defendant for aggravated battery, attempted murder, and armed violence.

June 26, 1995 Defendant files motion to dismiss complaint.

June 27, 1995 Defendant files pro se motion to dismiss.

June 29, 1995 Defendant seeks and obtains order setting motions for July 12, 1995.

August 14, 1995 Defendant files pro se motion to dismiss for violation of speedy trial rights.

August 15, 1995 Defendant's lawyer files motion for speedy trial discharge and argues motion. Court allows defendant until August 25, 1995, to present additional authority in support of the motion.

September 15, 1995 The court denies the motion for discharge.

September 26, 1995 The court holds a status conference and sets trial for October 16, 1995.

October 16, 1995 The court denies the motion to dismiss complaint.

October 17, 1995 Trial begins.

A speedy public trial is constitutionally guaranteed to every American citizen. U.S. Const., amend. VI. Since the State possesses the power to level accusation, the power to deprive freedom based on accusation, and the power to control trial's timetable, a speedy trial assures that due process means something. It secures the worth of other basic freedoms and promises the orderly administration of [294 Ill.App.3d 930] justice. It exists in recognition of a simple truth that "justice delayed is justice denied."

In Illinois, the prompt disposition of criminal cases assumes new meaning by recent constitutional amendment overwhelmingly approved by the people of this State. The Illinois Constitution, as it has since its inception, guarantees a speedy trial to any citizen accused of a criminal act. Ill. Const.1970, art. I, § 8. Now, it also guarantees any citizen that falls victim to a criminal act "timely disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused." Ill. Const.1970, art. I, § 8.1(a)(6) (amended November 3, 1992). In tandem, these assurances instruct that the speedy disposition of criminal charges is in everyone's interest. In Illinois, a speedy trial is most assuredly the basic thread essential to our fabric of justice.

Page 900

[229 Ill.Dec. 427] Additionally, our lawmakers provide specific statutory guidelines that impose express time limits for the processing of criminal cases. Their design is to implement speedy trial rights. People v. Hamby, 27 Ill.2d 493, 495-96, 190 N.E.2d 289, 291 (1963). Statutory time constraints also promote the innate fairness that prompt and orderly criminal justice brings. Our legislature has long guaranteed that "every person in custody in this State for an alleged offense shall be tried * * * within 120 days from the date he was taken into custody unless delay is occasioned by the defendant * * *." 725 ILCS 5/103-5(a) (West 1994).

In this case, defendant's trial began 191 days from the date he was taken into custody. Therefore, unless delay was occasioned by the defendant, his trial violates the statute's guarantee to speedy justice and his convictions cannot stand.

We review a September 15, 1995, order that denied defendant's speedy trial discharge motion. 1 The order found that defendant's stay in jail for 191 days without a trial was due to delay that defendant occasioned. The trial court decided that time's march to the speedy trial deadline halted on June 26, 1995, when defendant filed a motion to dismiss the criminal complaint. Moreover, defendant's motion suspended statutory time constraints until the motion was resolved. Thus, the trial court's view of the motion's tolling effect suspends the statute's time clock from the motion's filing date until the eve of trial when the motion was ultimately denied.

We first examine the effect of defendant's motion to dismiss on the statutory duty to commence trial within 120 days. The motion itself plainly lacks merit. Defendant raises the motion's obvious [294 Ill.App.3d 931] deficiencies and frames the question--whether the trial court abused its discretion by finding that a patently meritless motion produces trial's delay. In effect, defendant argues that the motion causes no delay because of its facially worthless content and that it follows that no delay exists to attribute to defendant.

This argument is not dispositive of the case. A motion's content is a necessary consideration in deciding whether it causes delay. However, it does not control the essential question--whether the motion actually delays trial. Here, defendant's meritless motion actually causes such a delay.

This case turns on the effect of a June 29, 1995, order. The order set defendant's motion for hearing and disposition on July 12, 1995. The trial court's decision bypasses this order without comment.

The defendant scheduled the motion to dismiss complaint for hearing and disposition. The procurement of an order that calls for the motion's disposition produces two pertinent consequences. First, it causes a delay that defendant occasions regardless of the motion's content. Second, it fixes a date certain for the resolution of pending motions. After that date passes, the tolling effect lifts and time begins again to advance on the 120-day constraint.

Initially, we discuss defendant's argument that the instant motions cannot produce attributable delay because of their content. As a general proposition, defendants are charged with delay that occurs from filing motions. People v. Hubbard, 276 Ill.App.3d 98, 101-02, 212 Ill.Dec. 814, 817, 657 N.E.2d 1159, 1162 (1995). The statute's time constraints are suspended during that time naturally associated with processing such motions. People v. Lendabarker, 215 Ill.App.3d 540, 553-54, 159 Ill.Dec. 70, 78-79, 575 N.E.2d 568, 576-77 (1991). In addition, defendant bears the responsibility for setting his motions for hearing and disposition. A failure to do so tolls the statutory time period. People v. Jones, 145 Ill.App.3d 804, 807, 99 Ill.Dec. 595, 598, 495 N.E.2d 1330, 1333 (1986).

The trial court relied upon several cases that stand for the proposition that motions to dismiss charges work delay that is properly attributed to defendants. See People v. Jones, 104 Ill.2d 268, 84 Ill.Dec. 495, 472

Page 901

[229 Ill.Dec. 428] N.E.2d 455 (1984); People v. Frame, 165 Ill.App.3d 585, 116 Ill.Dec. 590, 519 N.E.2d 482 (1988); People v. DeStefano, 85 Ill.App.2d 274, 229 N.E.2d 325 (1967).

Notwithstanding, the common attribution of delay because of defense motions does not mean automatic attribution of delay. See People v. Jump, 127 Ill.App.3d 440, 82 Ill.Dec. 498, 468 N.E.2d 1278 (1984); People v. Ferguson, 46 Ill.App.3d 815, 5 Ill.Dec. 200, 361 N.E.2d 339 (1977). The speedy trial statute contemplates more than the mechanical attribution of delay every time defendant engages in an act in pursuit of a defense. [294 Ill.App.3d 932] A per se rule does not exist. Speedy trial rights do not toll simply because a defendant files a motion. Ferguson, 46 Ill.App.3d at 818, 5 Ill.Dec. at 202, 361 N.E.2d at 341. If such a rule did exist, our inquiry could end here.

Not all motions cause delay. "Whether a motion in fact causes delay depends on the facts and circumstances of each case, and the trial court must appraise the timeliness and complexity of the motion." People v. Montenegro, 203 Ill.App.3d 314, 317, 148 Ill.Dec. 337, 339, 560 N.E.2d 934, 936 (1990). The 120-day rule is suspended only " ' "when there has been actual delay of trial clearly attributable to the defendant." ' " People v. Grant, 104 Ill.App.3d 183, 188-89, 60 Ill.Dec. 230, 234, 432 N.E.2d 1129, 1133, (1982), quoting People v. Perkins, 90 Ill.App.3d 975, 979, 46 Ill.Dec. 388, 392, 414 N.E.2d 110, 114 (1980), quoting People v. Hannah, 31 Ill.App.3d 1087, 1089, 335 N.E.2d 84, 86 (1975).

There were actually two motions to dismiss on file. The trial court focused on defense counsel's June 26, 1995, motion to dismiss complaint. Defendant filed a pro se motion to dismiss on the following day. Both motions were patently meritless.

The June 26, 1995, motion to dismiss complaint sought the criminal complaint's dismissal and defendant's release from custody. The request raised the statutory call for a probable cause determination within 30 days of a defendant's arrest. See 725 ILCS 5/109-3.1 (West 1994). The motion relied entirely upon the absence of a timely probable cause...

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