People v. Salerno, 76-161

Citation12 Ill.Dec. 514,370 N.E.2d 137,54 Ill.App.3d 806
Decision Date21 November 1977
Docket NumberNo. 76-161,76-161
Parties, 12 Ill.Dec. 514 The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Sam SALERNO, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

Page 137

370 N.E.2d 137
54 Ill.App.3d 806, 12 Ill.Dec. 514
The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee,
Sam SALERNO, Defendant-Appellant.
No. 76-161.
Appellate Court of Illinois, Second District.
Nov. 21, 1977.

Page 138

[12 Ill.Dec. 515] Peter A. Staben, Waukegan, for defendant-appellant.

Jack Hoogasian, State's Atty., Waukegan, Phyllis J. Perko, Martin P. Moltz, Ill. State's Attys. Assn., Elgin, for plaintiff-appellee.

BOYLE, Justice:

[54 Ill.App.3d 807] The defendant-appellant, Sam Salerno, hereinafter referred to as the defendant, appeals from an order of the Lake County Circuit Court denying his petition for post-conviction relief. The defendant had entered a plea of guilty to a charge of murder. On appeal the defendant makes two contentions. First, he asserts that the trial court did not properly admonish him as to the possibility of the death penalty being imposed, thereby precluding him from knowingly and understandingly entering his plea of guilty. Secondly, the defendant asserts that the cumulative effect of this court-appointed attorney's interpretation of the relevant sentencing statute so frightened the defendant as to make his guilty plea coerced rather than voluntary. Upon reviewing the record and weighing the arguments presented, we are of the opinion that the decision of the circuit court of Lake County must be affirmed.

The defendant was charged with having shot and killed William Caverner during the course of an armed robbery. Under section 5-8-1A of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill.Rev.Stat.1973, ch. 38, par. 1005-8-1A) (this statute was subsequently held to be unconstitutional in People ex rel. Rice v. Cunningham (1975), 61 Ill.2d 353, 336 N.E.2d 1) the defendant was subject to the death penalty if convicted of the crime. However, pursuant to plea negotiations, the defendant entered a plea of guilty to the murder charge and agreed to testify against his accomplice if the need arose. In exchange, the defendant received a sentence of 25-100 years in prison.

Before the trial court accepted the defendant's guilty plea, it admonished him pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 402 (Ill.Rev.Stat.1973, ch. 110A, par. 402). As part of that admonishment, the trial court made the following statement:

"THE COURT: I am obligated to tell you that the penalty which is fixed by statute for the offense of murder is not less than 14 years in the Illinois State Penitentiary and no maximum has been set. It could be any maximum which the court could see fit to impose. And under the circumstances, the mandatory death penalty would be imposed upon conviction of this offense. Do you understand that?


Later in the course of the trial court's admonishments of the defendant, the following exchange took place between the defendant and his attorney:

"MR. ORI: First, I would like the record to reflect that I am Mr. Salerno's appointed counsel since approximately November 21st to the present time. Is that correct, Sam?


[54 Ill.App.3d 808] MR. ORI: Judge McQueen appointed me to represent you, and Judge Duran appointed me to represent you here?


MR. ORI: You heard the judge indicate there is a possible death penalty in this case. Is that correct?


MR. ORI: I have talked to you about that, have I not?


MR. ORI: I indicated to you that I don't know whether that is constitutional or not constitutional. Is that correct?


MR. ORI: I further indicated to you, even if you went to trial on that, the jury, would have to recommend the death...

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  • People v. Keagbine, 78-288
    • United States
    • United States Appellate Court of Illinois
    • November 13, 1979
    ...People v. Scott, 49 Ill.2d 231, 274 N.E.2d 39 (1971); People v. Wilbourn, 48 Ill.2d 187, 268 N.E.2d 418 (1971); People v. Salerno, 54 Ill.App.3d 806, 12 Ill.Dec. 514, 370 N.E.2d 137 (2d Dist. 1977).) If it is permissible for a defendant to plead guilty under such circumstances and thereby w......

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