Illinois Supreme Court Reverses Appellate Court’s Refusal to Decide Ineffective Assistance of Counsel Claim

In this case the defendant went on trial for attempt murder. There was a key witness who gave a videotaped statement. Some of the tape contradicted his trial testimony, so defense counsel wanted to play those parts. The State responded that the whole tape should then be played due to the doctrine of completeness, and the defense acquiesced.

On appeal, appellate counsel raised ineffective assistance of counsel for that acquiescence. A divided appellate court affirmed the conviction, declining to reach this issue, claiming that there was insufficient evidence to resolve the claim on appeal.

The Illinois Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case back to the appellate court, instructing them to decide the issue. In doing so, the Illinois Supreme Court rejected the practice of applying a broad-sweeping “categorical approach” in determining whether to consider ineffective assistance of counsel claims on direct review.

The Illinois Supreme Court held that reviewing courts in Illinois should carefully consider each ineffective assistance of counsel claim on a case-by-case basis, and on this record, the record was complete to decide this issue.

The case is People v. Blackie Veach, 2017 IL 120649.

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