Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, September 23, 2019

Court throws out convict's appeal for post-conviction relief over sentencing


By John Breslin | Mar 11, 2019

MOUNT VERNON -- An appeals court has ruled against a convicted violent offender who sought post- conviction relief over consecutive sentences handed down by a trial judge.

Isaiah Ross, convicted of armed violence,  aggravated battery with a firearm, attempted armed robbery and aggravated discharge of a firearm, argued ineffective counsel, alleging his attorney led him to believe the sentences would be concurrent.

The defendant also alleged his trial attorney failed to flag possible defenses, advised Ross he would receive a heftier sentence if it went to trial, and suggested a lesser sentence by fingering a connection in the drug trade.

Ross says his attorney, during a conversation shortly before the hearing, specifically told him that the two-to- four-year sentences "ran together" with the 12-year sentence, He expected he would spend 10 years behind bars.

In court, Ross pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a total of 20 years by former Judge John Baricevic in St. Clair County Circuit Court, who, prior to handing down the ruling, clarified whether it was consecutive.

The Fifth District Appellate Court heard Ross's appeal against the circuit court and denied his petition for post-conviction relief over the sentencing, ruling the circuit court did not make a mistake.

The panel - Justice David Overstreet, Melissa Chapman and John Barberis - also ruled on a filing by Ross's post-conviction counsel, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender (OSAD), asking to withdraw because of a belief the appeal was without merit. The justices ruled counsel could withdraw.

"This court gave the defendant ample opportunity to file a pro se brief, memorandum, or other document responding to OSAD's motion or explaining why his appeal has merit," Overstreet wrote. "But the defendant has not taken advantage of that opportunity. 

"Following a careful examination of OSAD's motion and brief and of the entire record on appeal, this court has concluded that the instant appeal does indeed lack merit. Therefore, OSAD is granted leave to withdraw as counsel, and the judgment of the circuit court is affirmed."

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