Illinois Supreme Court Opinion Summary: PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS v. DION ADDISON
The Illinois Supreme Court only issued on written opinion in the month of April. In Justice Rochford’s opinion, she sided with the defendant Dion Addison. While the bounds of the right to effective of assistance of trial counsel has been well-litigated, the question of effective assistance of appellate counsel, arising from the failure to properly plead ineffective assistance of appellate counsel, presents a slightly different question.
In this case, the Illinois Supreme Court addressed whether postconviction counsel provided unreasonable assistance by failing to frame the issues in defendant Dion Addison’s amended postconviction petition as ones of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel. The court also considered whether the appellate court properly remanded the case for compliance with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 651(c) without considering the merits of the petition. The court answered both questions in the affirmative and affirmed the appellate court’s judgment.
The case involved Addison, who was charged with various offenses related to his alleged use of counterfeit money to purchase a motorcycle. Addison was convicted on all counts and sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment. After his conviction, he filed a pro se postconviction petition, raising several issues and alleging that appellate counsel failed to raise them on appeal. The trial court advanced the petition to the second stage, and postconviction counsel filed an amended petition raising five claims but did not assert any claims of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.
The State filed a motion to dismiss the amended petition, arguing that Addison’s claims were forfeited because they could have been raised on direct appeal. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss, and Addison appealed, arguing that postconviction counsel rendered unreasonable assistance in failing to file his affidavit and failing to argue ineffective assistance of appellate counsel.
The appellate court reversed and remanded, concluding that postconviction counsel rendered unreasonable assistance by failing to frame Addison’s claims as ones of ineffective assistance of appellate counsel for failing to raise the claims on direct appeal. The court relied heavily on a prior case, People v. Turner, as it reasoned that Turner stands for the claim that the failure to bring an ineffective assistance claim, when that is the only way to overcome forfeiture, amounts to ineffective assistance.
The Illinois Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court’s decision, holding that postconviction counsel failed to provide Addison with reasonable assistance by not shaping his claims into their proper form. The court also held that, since counsel did not comply with Rule 651(c), the case should be remanded without considering the merits of the petition’s claims.