Consequences of ''Playing Games'' With Court Procedures

In People v. Childs, 278 Ill. App. 3d 65, 74, 662 N.E.2d 161, 166-67, 214 Ill. Dec. 807 (1996), this court addressed a situation in which the defendant at the trial level was "playing games" with court procedures, insisting that he be represented by counsel, while also insisting that the two different assistant public defenders who had been appointed to represent him were incompetent and he needed other counsel. This court stated its disapproval of such game playing and wrote the following: "The trial court could have made an initial determination whether there was any valid basis to discharge counsel. Since none was shown, the court could have denied the motion to withdraw and proceeded with trial. On the other hand, had the court given the admonitions required by Rule 401(a), valid waiver of counsel could have been found, despite defendant's insistence that he did not wish to represent himself." Childs, 278 Ill. App. 3d at 74, 662 N.E.2d at 166-67. Trial courts must never reward a defendant's obstructionist behavior. Yet, that is what happened in Childs. The defendant in Childs filed a complaint with the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission against the assistant public defender who was then representing him. The trial court therefore permitted that defense attorney to withdraw on the day of trial, but first gave defendant the choice of going to trial without an attorney, going to trial with that assistant public defender as his attorney, or hiring his own counsel within the next hour. Childs, 278 Ill. App. 3d at 69, 662 N.E.2d at 163.