People v. Jamison

Annotate this Case
People v. Jamison, No. 80967 (1/29/98)

Docket No. 80967--Agenda 7--September 1997.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee, v. ERNEST D.
JAMISON, Appellant.
Opinion filed January 29, 1998.

JUSTICE MILLER delivered the opinion of the court:
The defendant, Ernest Jamison, pleaded guilty in the circuit court of
McLean County to first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/9--1(a)(1) (West 1994)) and
armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18--2 (West 1994)). Defendant waived his right to a
trial by jury for the sentencing phase of his proceedings. The trial judge found
defendant eligible for the death penalty based on the statutory aggravating factor
that the murder occurred in the course of a felony. 720 ILCS 5/9--1(b)(6) (West
1994). After considering the factors in aggravation and mitigation presented during
the sentencing hearing, the trial judge found that there were no mitigating factors
sufficient to preclude imposition of the death penalty. The trial judge subsequently
sentenced defendant to death for the murder. The trial judge additionally sentenced
defendant to a consecutive term of 30 years' imprisonment for the armed robbery.
The trial judge denied defendant's motion to reconsider his sentences. Defendant's
death sentence has been stayed pending his direct appeal to this court. Ill. Const.
1970, art. VI, sec. 4(b); 134 Ill. 2d Rs. 603, 609(a).

I. BACKGROUND
Defendant raises several issues on appeal. Defendant first contends that this
cause must be remanded to the trial court for proceedings consistent with Supreme
Court Rule 605(b) (145 Ill. 2d R. 605(b)) because he did not receive the
admonitions required by that rule following his sentencing. Because we find that
this cause must be remanded to the trial court for these proceedings, we address
only those facts pertinent to our decision here.
Defendant was charged by indictment on July 13, 1995, with three counts
of first degree murder and one count of aggravated vehicular hijacking. The
charges stemmed from the June 19, 1995, murder of Susan Gilmore at the Quick
Pic convenience store and gasoline station in McLean, Illinois. Defendant initially
entered a plea of not guilty to the charges. On September 1, 1995, the State
charged defendant with armed robbery during the same incident.
Also on that day, defendant withdrew his plea of not guilty to all of the
charges and entered a plea of guilty to the first degree murder charge in count I
and to the armed robbery charge in count V. The State indicated that it would not
prosecute the remaining counts if the court accepted the defendant's plea to counts
I and V. The trial court proceeded to admonish defendant in accordance with
Supreme Court Rule 402 and found that his guilty plea was entered knowingly and
voluntarily. After the prosecutor recited the factual basis for defendant's guilty
pleas as to counts I and V, the court accepted the plea.
On October 3, 1995, defendant waived his right to a jury sentencing
hearing. On December 4, 1995, the case proceeded to the eligibility phase of
defendant's death penalty hearing. Based on the testimony presented at that
hearing, the trial judge found that defendant was eligible for the death penalty
under the felony murder aggravating factor (720 ILCS 5/9--1(b)(6)(c) (West
1994)).
The court then proceeded with an aggravation and mitigation hearing and,
after the presentation of evidence by the parties, took the question of sentence
under advisement. On February 21, 1996, the court sentenced defendant to death
on the murder conviction and 30 years' imprisonment on the armed robbery
conviction. In the sentencing order, the trial judge stated: "[d]efendant is ordered
to file any post-trial motions within thirty days of this date and a hearing on post
trial motions is set March 29, 1996 at 2:00 p.m."
On March 14, 1996, defendant filed a motion for reconsideration of the
sentences. Defendant did not file a motion to withdraw his plea of guilty. On
April 1, 1996, the trial judge denied defendant's sentencing motion. This direct
appeal followed.

II. ANALYSIS
Supreme Court Rule 604(d) provides the requirements a defendant must
meet when appealing from a judgment entered on a plea of guilty. Rule 604(d)
states in relevant part:
"No appeal from a judgment entered upon a plea of guilty
shall be taken unless the defendant, within 30 days of the date on
which sentence is imposed, files in the trial court a motion to
reconsider the sentence, if only the sentence is being challenged,
or, if the plea is being challenged, a motion to withdraw his plea
of guilty and vacate the judgment. *** Upon appeal any issue not
raised by the defendant in the motion to reconsider the sentence or
withdraw the plea of guilty and vacate the judgment shall be
deemed waived." 145 Ill. 2d R. 604(d).
Rule 605(b) provides the admonitions the trial judge must give a defendant
when imposing sentence on a defendant who pleaded guilty. Rule 605(b)
complements Rule 604(d) and serves as a corollary to the requirements of Rule
604(d). People v. Tufte, 165 Ill. 2d 66, 71 (1995). Rule 605(b) states in relevant
part:
"In all cases in which a judgment is entered upon a plea of
guilty, at the time of imposing sentence, the trial court shall advise
the defendant substantially as follows:
(1) that he has a right to appeal;
(2) that prior to taking an appeal he must file in the
trial court, within 30 days of the date on which sentence is
imposed, a written motion asking to have the trial court
reconsider the sentence or have the judgment vacated and
for leave to withdraw his plea of guilty, setting forth his
grounds for the motion;
* * *
(6) that in any appeal taken from the judgment on
the plea of guilty any issue or claim of error not raised in
the motion to reconsider the sentence or to vacate the
judgment and to withdraw his plea of guilty shall be
deemed waived." 145 Ill. 2d R. 605(b).
Here, defendant did not file a motion in the trial court to withdraw his
guilty plea. He filed only a motion to reconsider his sentences. He points out,
however, that the trial judge did not admonish him in accordance with Rule
605(b). Defendant argues that because of this failure by the trial judge, this cause
should be remanded for Rule 605(b) admonitions so that he may have an
opportunity to file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. We must now determine
whether the trial judge's failure to give Rule 605(b) admonitions requires that this
cause be remanded to the trial court for that purpose so that defendant can file a
motion to withdraw his guilty plea should he decide to do so.
Compliance with Rule 604(d) is a condition precedent to a defendant's
appeal. People v. Wilk, 124 Ill. 2d 93, 105 (1988). Because this is a capital case,
defendant's appeal is automatic. Nonetheless, Rule 604(d) applies to capital cases
(People v. Janes, 158 Ill. 2d 27 (1994)), and a capital defendant waives issues
regarding his guilty plea if he does not follow the rule (People v. Stewart, 123 Ill. 2d 368, 374 (1988)).
Under Rule 604(d), the appellate court must dismiss the appeal of a
defendant failing to file a written motion to withdraw his plea of guilty or to
reconsider his sentence. People v. Foster, 171 Ill. 2d 469, 471 (1996). This court
has found an exception to automatic dismissal when the trial judge fails to give
Rule 605(b) admonitions and the defendant submits a motion to withdraw a plea
of guilty in an incorrect manner. Foster, 171 Ill. 2d at 473 (no dismissal where
defendant submitting an oral motion to withdraw a guilty plea did not receive
Rule 605(b) admonitions). In Foster we held that, under those circumstances, the
appellate court had no discretion but to remand the cause to the trial court for
defendant's strict compliance with Rule 604(d). Foster, 171 Ill. 2d at 474.
We are now called upon to decide whether we must remand a cause for
Rule 605(b) admonitions when an unadmonished defendant fails to file a motion
to withdraw his guilty plea. As stated in Wilk, rules of this court concerning
criminal defendants and pleas of guilty are not suggestions. Wilk, 124 Ill. 2d at
103. When the language of a supreme court rule is plain and unambiguous, courts
will not read in exceptions, limitations, or other conditions. People v. Daniels, 172 Ill. 2d 154, 163 (1996). Rule 605(b) states that, "[i]n all cases in which a
judgment is entered upon a plea of guilty," the trial judge "shall" advise the
defendant at the time of sentencing of certain appeal rights and requirements. 145
Ill. 2d R. 605(b). Rule 605(b) admonitions are, therefore, mandatory. Further, Rule
604(d) and 605(b) are meant to work together. Wilk, 124 Ill. 2d at 103. This court
requires strict compliance with Rule 604(d) by a defendant. Foster, 171 Ill. 2d at
474. A necessary antecedent, however, is that the defendant be given the
admonitions prescribed by Rule 605(b) to advise him of those requirements. When
the trial judge fails to provide the admonitions required by Rule 605(b) and the
defendant fails to follow Rule 604(d), we believe it is appropriate to remand the
cause to the trial court for proceedings consistent with Rule 605(b).
Here, the trial judge ordered defendant only "to file any post-trial motions
within thirty days of this date." This admonition does not substantially advise
defendant in accordance with Rule 605(b). Because defendant was not admonished
in accordance with Rule 605(b), we retain jurisdiction and remand this cause to
the circuit court so that defendant can be given correct admonitions and allowed
the opportunity to withdraw his guilty plea.
In opposition to this result, the State argues that defendant's filing of a
motion to reconsider his sentences in accordance with Rule 604(d) shows that he
was aware of the requirements of the rule and that he made a strategic choice to
challenge only his sentences. Thus, the State contends that defendant was not
harmed in any way by the trial judge's failure to properly admonish him. With
nothing to guide us in the record about defendant's reasons for filing only a
motion to reconsider his sentences, however, it would be speculation on our part
to assume that defendant was aware of the requirements of Rule 604(d) and,
moreover, deliberately chose not to seek withdrawal of his guilty plea.
The State further suggests that the defendant's remedy for any deficiency
in the trial judge's admonitions properly lies in post-conviction proceedings, in
which he could challenge the competency of his trial counsel. We do not agree.
In the present case, the trial judge's failure to provide the necessary admonitions
is apparent from the record, and it is therefore appropriate to remand the cause for
strict compliance with the rules regarding guilty pleas, as was done in Foster. We
do not believe that the defendant should, in these circumstances, be limited to the
more restrictive forum of post-conviction proceedings.
Defendant raises several other issues in this appeal, but we need not
consider these questions at this time. If, after remand, defendant elects not to file
a timely motion to withdraw his plea of guilty or his motion to withdraw the plea
is denied, this court will then address defendant's remaining arguments and, at
defendant's request, any issues related to the denial of the motion. Janes, 158 Ill. 2d at 36. Because defendant's remaining arguments would be moot if defendant
files a motion to withdraw his guilty plea and the motion is allowed by the trial
judge, we do not address those issues at this time.

III. CONCLUSION
Strict compliance with Rule 605(b) is required. When a defendant is not
given Rule 605(b) admonitions and subsequently fails to file a motion to withdraw
his plea of guilty, the cause should be remanded for further proceedings. Pursuant
to this court's supervisory authority, we retain jurisdiction and remand this cause
to the circuit court of McLean County for proceedings consistent with Rule
605(b), so that defendant may be admonished and have an opportunity to file a
motion to withdraw his plea of guilty under Rule 604(d) if he desires. Janes, 158 Ill. 2d at 35-36. Defendant's counsel is to make a timely report to the clerk of this
court on the progress of this cause in the circuit court. If, after receiving Rule
605(b) admonitions, defendant does not file a motion to withdraw his guilty plea,
we will address his other arguments. If defendant files a motion to withdraw his
guilty plea and it is allowed, this court will release jurisdiction back to the circuit
court of McLean County. If defendant files a motion to withdraw his guilty plea
and it is denied, we will address his remaining arguments and, if he appeals the
denial, any issues related to that decision.

Cause remanded with directions.