Convicted burglar will receive new defense attorney, appellate court rules

By Gabriel Neves | Oct 15, 2018

The man was charged with attempted burglary of a Columbia home in December 2014.  

MT. VERNON –– A man convicted of attempted burglary will receive a new defense attorney amid questions about his previous attorney's actions in the case. 

On Oct. 3, the Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court reversed a Monroe County court decision denying post-trial motions by Joseph Garcia. 

Garcia was charged with attempted burglary of a Columbia home in December 2014. According to court documents, police found a black knife with a broken tip upon arrest, which matched scratches on the homeowners' door.

Before his trial, prosecutors agreed not to mention other burglaries in the Columbia area or Garcia's previous crimes. However, during the trial, prosecutors played two videotaped interviews of Garcia, in which the detectives mentioned his previous crimes and other burglaries in the area. Garcia's defense attorney did not object.

The jury found Garcia guilty and sentenced him to 10 years in prison and two years of mandatory supervised release. 

Afterward, Garcia's defense attorney requested a new trial due to the admission of this evidence. The circuit court declined and Garcia appealed. 

Garcia claimed his defense attorney had a conflict of interest in arguing the post-trial motion, because "counsel had to argue that his own error resulted in an unfair trial."

The appellate court ruled in Garcia's favor and granted him a new attorney. 

"The defendant’s attorney had to argue that his own mistake resulted in an unfair trial," Justice David Overstreet wrote in the ruling. "The record establishes that defense counsel was reluctant to 'cast blame on anyone' and declined the circuit court’s request that he present evidence on the issue, which resulted in the circuit court summarily denying the post-trial motion."

Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court Case number 5-15-0363

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