Third District Appellate Court Holds That Krankel Hearing Process Is Appropriate for Accusations of Unreasonable Assistance of Post-conviction Counsel.

In this case, the defendant picked up a number of cases. He plead guilty and apparently received a higher than expected sentence. He allegedly instructed his lawyer to take action with withdraw the plea/appeal and he took no action, which led to a post-conviction petition.

The defendant’s petition reached the third stage evidentiary hearing stage. His lawyer in the case did not call the defendant’s girlfriend. After the PC petition was denied, the defendant filed a pro se motion to reconsider with an affidavit attached from his girlfriend that included details of communications between her and trial counsel re: defendant’s wishes to withdraw the plea or appeal. This motion was denied.

On appeal, the defendant complained there should be a process in post-conviction where one should be able to complain about their lawyer’s lack of diligence like a Krankel hearing that’s used in ineffective assistance of trial counsel claims. The State took the position that since there’s no constitutional right to State post-conviction counsel, then there is no need for such a hearing process.

The appellate court decided that the differences between defendant’s right to the effective assistance of posttrial counsel and the reasonable assistance of postconviction counsel do not prohibit the use of a Krankel-like
procedure during postconviction proceedings. The said that the goals of the Krankel procedure hold as much
value in the post-conviction context as they do in the posttrial context. They indicated that an inquiry into defendant’s pro se claim of unreasonable assistance permits the circuit court to determine if new counsel
needs to be appointed to avoid any conflict, develops the record regarding defendant’s claim, and limits the issues on appeal.

They decided that, for these reasons, a Krankel-like procedure applies to these cases.

The case is People v. John Michael Custer, 3-16-0202 and 3-16-0203.

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