Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

Systemic Sentencing Issues Appeals Program

BJA Program(s): Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
State(s): IL

Grantee Agency: See below

Grant Amount/Year(s): FY 2009/$164,259

About the Program:

The Office of the State Appellate Defender (OSAD) is a State of Illinois agency for which the principal function is the representation of indigent persons on appeal in criminal cases when appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court, the Appellate Court or the Circuit Court. The Office of the State Appellate Defender does not initiate or generate the criminal appeals it handles. Defendants convicted of crimes may file a notice of appeal at which time the Courts may appoint the agency to represent the defendant in the Appellate process. To provide for this legal representation, the State Appellate Defender has district offices in each of the five appellate court districts of Illinois - Chicago, Elgin, Ottawa, Springfield, and Mt. Vernon representing virtually all indigent criminal defendants on appeal.

This funding supports salaries and benefits for three full-time appellate defenders who provide quality representation in systemic sentencing appellate court cases in which OSAD has been appointed. This project acts as a compliment to the JAG Systemic Sentencing Appeals Project with the Office of the State’s Attorney’s Appellate Prosecutor, the state agency which handles appeals in all cases which emanate from an Appellate Districts with fewer than 3,000,000 inhabitants when requested to do so and at the direction of the State's Attorneys otherwise responsible for prosecuting the appeals.

Through this funding OSAD would employ a unit of three assistant appellate defenders who would work on cases with systemic sentencing issues such as: excessive sentences, improper admonishments, improper sentence credit, extended terms, negotiated sentences, enhanced sentences, including habitual criminal, mandatory consecutive sentences, and constitutional challenges to sentences. Attorneys communicate with the clients, read the record, and then file a brief, or motions to withdraw or dismiss, summary motions, and reply briefs. In addition, the attorneys may visit the client or orally argue the case. The attorney may also file a petition for rehearing or a petition for leave to appeal.

Program Successes/Effect on the Community:

Past years of program performance have demonstrated that these staff attorneys accelerate adjudication of the finality of the sentences imposed in such cases, ensuring that systemic issues regarding state sentencing statutes are more timely decided and more promptly clarifying Illinois’ sentencing laws. The relevant results are that agency clients receive the quality representation to which they are entitled; the backlog of appellate cases awaiting review is reduced; and agency clients learn the resolution of their appeal – which may have an impact on their term of incarceration – in a timely manner.

Learn More:
To learn more about the program, please contact:
Michael J. Pelletier
State Appellate Defender
Phone: 217-782-7203

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