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Appellate Court Reverses Course in Krankel Ruling

A Chicago man sentenced to seven years on drug offenses could get a new trial after judges in the 1st  District Appellate Court reversed their earlier ruling and said complaints indirectly reported to a lower court merited an inquiry into his defense. Cops said Alfred Dowling confessed to owning the two pounds of pot found in a car during a 2015 traffic stop and only complained about his representation during pre-sentence investigation. In aggravation, prosecutors drew attention what they said was lack of remorse when Downing told a probation officer his attorney failed to call witnesses, to challenge police testimony and to let him appear in his own defense.

Downing never filed written motions or raised the issues during a bench trial in Cook County Circuit Court. He requested a re-hearing after the appeals panel ruled the onus was on him to notify the court of dissatisfaction with his defense. In their de novo review, the same three judges that first considered the appeal cited case law in finding that the lower court should have conduct a Krankel hearing into the effectiveness of counsel. They said that how his complaints arrived with the court was less important than timely assurance of the fairness of court proceedings.