People v. Jindra, 2018 IL App (2d) 160225 (July). Episode 528 (Duration 6:10)
Defendant filed his own motion but didn’t really complain about his attorney.
Defendant very unhappy with the results of his trial for disorderly conduct involving the dog catcher.
The sole issue on appeal is whether the trial court should have conducted a preliminary inquiry pursuant to Krankel into defendant’s alleged claim that he was denied the effective assistance of counsel because of counsel’s failure to secure the presence of a key witness and to notify the judge of the witness’s statement.
On the same day as sentencing, defendant filed a pro se motion, titled “Motion (To Reconsider),” based on Cuthbertson’s nonappearance.
In his motion, defendant wrote the following:
“I would like the judge to reconsider this case. the [sic] key witness, Brissa Cuphbertson [sic], did not appear in court, nor was her written statement submitted to the judge. The public defender was Mr. Travis Lutz. This eye witness [sic] is crucial to this defense.”
When a defendant presents a pro se posttrial claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the trial court should conduct an inquiry to examine the factual basis of the claim. People v. Jolly, 2014 IL 117142, ¶ 29; People v. Moore, 207 Ill. 2d 68, 77-78 (2003).
However, if a defendant does not sufficiently raise an ineffective-assistance claim, he does not trigger the need for the trial court to inquire. People v. Taylor, 237 Ill. 2d 68, 75-77 (2010).
People v. Ayres, 2017 IL 120162 (February). Episode 307 (Duration 5:41)
Here the Illinois Supreme Court considered whether the defendant’s bare allegation of “ineffective assistance of counsel” contained in a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and vacate his sentence was sufficient to trigger the trial court’s duty to conduct a preliminary Krankel inquiry, even though the allegation lacked any explanation or supporting facts.
The court concluded that a defendant’s “clear claim asserting ineffective assistance of counsel, either orally or in writing, *** is sufficient to trigger the trial court’s duty to conduct a Krankel inquiry.”
Thus, to be sufficient, the complaint must be clear.
While defendant did mention counsel in his motion, he did not complain about counsel’s performance. Nor did he complain about counsel in his oral statements to the court.
“In instances where the defendant’s claim is implicit and could be subject to different interpretations, a Krankel inquiry is not required.” Thomas, 2017 IL App (4th) 150815, ¶ 26.
As in Thomas and Taylor, defendant’s statements could be subject to differing interpretations.
He easily could have been hoping for the trial court to reopen the proofs in order to hear the witness. Absent a clear claim of ineffective assistance of counsel, the trial court’s duty to conduct a Krankel inquiry was not triggered.
We find that defendant’s statements fell short of a clear claim of ineffective assistance of counsel that would trigger the trial court’s duty to conduct a preliminary Krankel inquiry.
Defendant never stated, orally or in writing, that counsel was ineffective. Although defendant’s motion mentioned his counsel, it is unclear that defendant, in fact, was complaining about counsel. In short, defendant failed to make a clear claim asserting ineffective assistance of counsel sufficient to prompt the court’s duty to conduct a Krankel inquiry.
There simply is no clear accusation of ineffective assistance, in defendant’s pro se motion or anywhere else in the record. As defendant’s statements fell short of a “clear claim asserting ineffective assistance of counsel” (Ayres, 2017 IL 120071, ¶ 18), he was not entitled to a Krankel inquiry. Accordingly, we conclude that defendant did not sufficiently raise a pro se claim of ineffective assistance of counsel and that the trial court did not err in failing to conduct a preliminary Krankel inquiry.