People v. Smith

Decision Date24 July 2019
Docket Number4-16-0750,4-16-0751 cons.,NOS. 4-16-0641,S. 4-16-0641
Citation141 N.E.3d 688,2019 IL App (4th) 160641,435 Ill.Dec. 879
Parties The PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Plaintiff-Appellee, v. Adam C. SMITH, Defendant-Appellant.
CourtUnited States Appellate Court of Illinois

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

¶ 1 Due to a voicemail left on Judge Robert C. Bollinger's answering machine, the State charged defendant, Adam C. Smith, with threatening a public official. During the pendency of that case (case No. 15-CF-1355), the trial court found defendant in direct criminal contempt (case No. 16-CC-1). On May 13, 2016, after the jury found defendant guilty of threatening a public official in case No. 15-CF-1355, the court sentenced defendant to 30 days in the county jail for direct criminal contempt in case No. 16-CC-1. At the sentencing hearing in July 2016, the court again found defendant in direct criminal contempt for actions he had taken since the last contempt ruling and sentenced him to 180 days in jail as a sanction in case No. 16-CC-2. The court sentenced defendant to 10 years in prison for threatening a public official. Defendant filed appeals in all three cases. These appeals were consolidated in March 2018 for purposes of our review.

¶ 2 On appeal, defendant raises the following issues: (1) the State failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt defendant intended to communicate a threat of unlawful violence to a public official; (2) section 12-9(a) of the Criminal Code of 2012 (Criminal Code) ( 720 ILCS 5/12-9(a) (West 2014)) is unconstitutionally overbroad, violating the first amendment of the United States Constitution ( U.S. Const., amend. I ) and section 2 of article I of the Illinois Constitution ( Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 2 ); (3) the trial court erred by allowing the State to introduce other-crimes evidence, which denied him a fair trial; (4) he was denied his statutory right to a speedy trial when the court granted the State's motion to continue the case past March 31, 2016; (5) the court erred by allowing him to proceed pro se at trial without first substantially complying with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 401(a) (eff. July 1, 1984); (6) the court erred by not ordering, sua sponte , a hearing on his fitness, even though he had earlier been found fit to stand trial; (7) the court abused its discretion in summarily convicting him of direct criminal contempt in case Nos. 16-CC-1 and 16-CC-2; and (8) the court imposed an excessive sentence. We affirm in part and reverse in part.


¶ 4 In November 2015, the State charged defendant by information with threatening a public official ( 720 ILCS 5/12-9(a)(1), (a)(2) (West 2014)). According to the charging instrument, on or about October 27, 2015, "defendant knowingly conveyed to a public official, Judge Robert Bollinger, by telephone a communication containing a threat that placed the public official in reasonable apprehension of future bodily harm." On November 4, 2015, the trial court (Judge Dan Flannell) gave defendant a copy of the information and read the charges to him. The court asked defendant whether he had counsel, wanted to obtain private counsel, or wanted the court to appoint him a public defender. Defendant said he would represent himself because he believed the Macon County Public Defender's office was biased against him.

¶ 5 On November 25, 2015, at defendant's preliminary hearing, the trial court asked defendant if he still intended to represent himself or wanted a public defender appointed. Defendant again said he wanted to proceed pro se instead of being represented by the Macon County Public Defender's office. After finding the State established probable cause, the court again told defendant it would appoint a public defender to represent him but defendant did not have the right to choose who the public defender would be. Defendant said he would still proceed pro se .

¶ 6 On December 3, 2015, the case was assigned to Judge Karle Koritz, who normally sits in De Witt County.

¶ 7 On January 6, 2016, the State filed a motion for defendant to undergo a fitness evaluation. Defendant objected, arguing he had been found fit in a prior case and was fit. Over defendant's objection, the trial court appointed Dr. Rohi Patil to examine defendant and determine defendant's fitness to stand trial. On February 8, 2016, Dr. Patil submitted a report he prepared to the court, concluding defendant was fit to stand trial. The report stated:

"[Defendant] is a young man with a long history of mental illness and noncompliance with treatment. He has been found unfit to stand trial in criminal matters on two occasions in the past. At this time, he demonstrates significant grandiosity as well as persecutory beliefs, but although we find his judgment to be impaired, we do not believe that he is psychotic. He clearly understands the charge against him, the possible consequences if he is convicted, and courtroom processes and the roles of the major participants. We believe that he is fit to stand trial, although we fully expect him to try to impede the process through behavioral disruptions, bizarre motions, and other methods, and to feel fully justified in doing so."

¶ 8 On February 10, 2016, the trial court (Judge Koritz) found defendant fit to stand trial. Again, the court asked defendant whether he wanted to proceed pro se . The court stated it knew Judge Flannell had already admonished defendant regarding his right to counsel and found defendant made a knowing and intelligent waiver. However, the court stated it wanted to revisit the issue with defendant. The court explained the difficulties involved when a lay person defends himself in court. Defendant argued he was entitled to the appointment of private counsel rather than a public defender. The court told defendant it would appoint the Macon County Public Defender's office if defendant requested counsel. Defendant stated he would continue to represent himself.

¶ 9 The State also filed a motion to admit other-crimes evidence. The motion noted defendant had been in custody at the Macon County jail since October 28, 2015, which was the day after the alleged offense in case No. 15-CF-1355. According to the motion, on December 29, 2015, and January 7, 2016, while in jail, defendant tendered inmate-request slips to staff at the jail addressed to Judge Bollinger, both of which included statements to Judge Bollinger substantially similar to the voicemail left on Judge Bollinger's answering machine on October 27, 2015, which was the basis for the charge in case No. 15-CF-1355. The slip from December 29, 2015, referenced three Bible verses. The slip from January 7, 2016, also referenced multiple Bible verses. The State argued the request slips and the contents therein were relevant "other crimes" evidence admissible to show defendant's intent and identity. The State also asked for the trial to be continued from March 31, 2016, until the May trial setting because one of the State's material witnesses, Detective Matt Whetstone, would be unavailable on March 31.

¶ 10 On March 11, 2016, the trial court held a pretrial hearing and heard arguments on various motions. During the hearing, the court noted defendant had referred to the assistant state's attorney as a "snake attorney" and included citations to certain Bible verses, including Psalm 141:6, which, according to the court, references judges being thrown from a cliff. The court ordered defendant to refrain from (1) any references to Bible verses, unless the verses somehow related substantively to the motion; (2) insulting or derogatory language; and/or (3) name-calling in any motion going forward. The court warned defendant he would be subject to criminal contempt proceedings if he violated this order.

¶ 11 The trial court then addressed the State's motion to admit other-crimes evidence. The State noted Sergeant Kris Thompson would testify he received an inmate-request slip addressed to Judge Bollinger that contained derogatory and threatening language. Thompson received the slip from Correctional Officer Joshua Wilson, who picked the slip up from defendant's cell on December 29, 2015. Sergeant Thompson himself picked up another inmate-request slip from defendant addressed to Judge Bollinger containing multiple Bible verses and derogatory and threatening language. Detective Whetstone would testify that he was the original investigating officer in the case and was familiar with the original voicemail left for Judge Bollinger and that the tone and content of the inmate-request slips were similar to the voicemail left for Judge Bollinger. The State asked the court to admit the inmate-request slips to show defendant's identity as the individual who left the voicemail and his intent to physically threaten Judge Bollinger when he left the voicemail message. Defendant argued this evidence should not be admitted because the notes were written after the charged offense. The court granted the State's motion to admit the inmate-request slips as other-crimes evidence if the evidence was otherwise admissible and a proper foundation established. The court then denied the State's motion to continue defendant's trial off the March 31 calendar because the court thought the continuance could potentially affect defendant's right to a speedy trial.

¶ 12 The trial court also warned defendant about his behavior. The court noted allegations regarding defendant's erratic behavior might cause the court to question defendant's ability to represent himself and his fitness to stand trial. The court noted it did not have a bona fide doubt of defendant's fitness at that point but told defendant not to give the court a reason to have a bona fide doubt. The court also warned defendant his actions could cause him to be held in criminal contempt.

¶ 13 On May 10, 2016, the State filed a motion for a finding of direct criminal contempt. The court noted defendant had violated the court...

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