Can A Petition For Postconviction Relief Be Dismissed If Defendant Fails To Assert His Right To Testify And Does Not Allege Prejudice ?

In Youngblood, the defendant petitioned for postconviction relief from his conviction of aggravated battery and mob action. Evidence at trial established, among other things, that the defendant bit a police officer while being arrested. In his postconviction petition, the defendant alleged that his counsel was ineffective for refusing to allow him to testify at trial. The trial court summarily dismissed his petition. This court affirmed. First, we found that because the defendant's petition contained no allegation that he made a contemporaneous assertion of his right to testify, his petition did not state the gist of a claim that his right to testify was violated by counsel. The Court further found that the defendant failed to satisfy the prejudice prong of Strickland. Specifically, The Court found: "Defendant did not indicate that, if he had been called to testify, he would have stated that he had no altercation with the officer, that the officer's finger was injured before the altercation began, or that he did not bite the officer. Rather, defendant, who, as we noted on direct appeal, admitted that he resisted the arrest, pleaded only that he would have testified about where his altercation with the officer took place. Specifically, defendant indicated that 'he would have testified to the whereabouts surrounding his arrest.' The location of the arrest has no bearing on whether defendant injured the officer or not, which, in contrast to the location of the arrest, was a fact at issue in defendant's trial." Youngblood, 389 Ill. App. 3d at 218-19. Thus, the Court held that because the defendant failed to assert his right to testify and did not allege prejudice, the petition was properly dismissed. Youngblood, 389 Ill. App. 3d at 219.