Hey Judge, Slow Down

Judges like to resolve cases; sometimes they push them through the system too fast.  One thing that I have learned in my short life is that sometimes slower is faster.  In a recent Illinois Appellate Court decision, People v. Adams (.pdf), we learn about a trial judge that pushed a case through the system too fast and was then slapped with some of the scariest words a trial judge can receive: reversed and remanded.

In Adams, the trial judge would not appoint a public defender to a defendant because the defendant owned a Camaro possibly worth $6,000.  The judge wanted the defendant to sell the car and use the money to hire a lawyer.  By the time the defendant requested a public defender, his case had been continued a number of times for different reasons.   The defendant’s jury trial began twelve days after the judge denied his request for appointed counsel.  The defendant represented himself at trial and lost.  He received a prison sentence of eight years.

The Illinois Appellate Court reversed and remanded the case because the trial judge, after receiving the defendant’s request for appointed counsel,  neither properly evaluated the defendant’s financial situation nor gave the defendant enough time to sell his Camaro.  Regarding the latter point, the Court stated that the defendant should have been given a reasonable amount of time to sell the Camaro and  “twelve days was not a reasonable amount of time.”

Jeremy Richey

1 Response to “Hey Judge, Slow Down”


  1. 1 CD March 15, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Wow – at least it got reversed. I’m shocked though that it is considered acceptable in IL to force a defendant to sell a car to get an attorney. In TX, generally the value of a car is not taken into account in determining indigency.


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