Consequences of Trial Court's Failure to Review Postconviction Petition Within 90 Days

In People v. Dauer, 293 Ill. App. 3d 329, 227 Ill. Dec. 706, 687 N.E.2d 1188 (1997), defendant was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment. Dauer, 293 Ill. App. 3d at 330. Defendant appealed his conviction to the appellate court and the trial court ordered that the defendant's pro se postconviction petition be held in abeyance pending the outcome of the appeal. Dauer, 293 Ill. App. 3d at 330. As a result, the trial court did not examine the petition for more than 90 days after its filing and docketing. Dauer, 293 Ill. App. 3d at 330. Defendant's conviction was affirmed on appeal. Thereafter, the trial court held a hearing on the State's motion to dismiss the postconviction petition and subsequently dismissed the petition. Dauer, 293 Ill. App. 3d at 331. Defendant appealed the dismissal and, on appeal, the Fourth District reversed. The court stated: "In regard to the late action of the circuit court in examining the petition, we recognize that putting the petition in abeyance until the appeal was decided was not an unreasonable thing to do. However, we are aware of no case that has permitted a delay in the 90-day rule of section 122-2.1(a) of the Post-Conviction Hearing Act, however reasonable such an action might be." Dauer, 293 Ill. App. 3d at 331. The fourth district reversed the dismissal based solely on the trial court's failure to review the petition within 90 days. Dauer, 293 Ill. App. 3d at 331.