July 23, 2024
Local News

Appellate court reverses former Homer Glen lawyer's murder-for-hire conviction

Robert Gold-Smith

An appellate court reversed a former Homer Glen lawyer’s murder-for-hire conviction because a judge wrongfully denied his motion to have another judge to preside over the case, court records said.

On March 8, 2016, Robert Gold-Smith, 57, was found guilty by former Judge Daniel Rozak of trying to hire a Will County jail inmate to kill his then-wife, Victoria Smith, in 2011.

Gold-Smith was in jail at the time on charges alleging he punched his wife in the face several times after a court hearing in their divorce case. A jury found him guilty of the attack in 2016.

Rozak sentenced Gold-Smith to 30 years in prison. At the sentencing hearing, he compared Rozak to “tyrannical kings, despots and dictators.”

"The Spanish Inquisition would've been more appropriate for your [distribution] of justice, or should I say, injustice,” Gold-Smith said.

Rozak said Gold-Smith is a “manifestation of inefficiency” who “makes an intentional display of contrary behavior ... (He) attempts to undermine everything.”

On Oct. 22, the 3rd District Appellate Court reversed Gold-Smith's conviction after finding Rozak was wrong to deny a motion for a new judge.

Gold-Smith filed the motion himself on Oct. 26, 2012, after his public defender apparently refused to do so, the appellate court’s opinion said. Gold-Smith made the motion even after Rozak denied his previous request for his public defender to withdraw so he could represent himself until he hired a private attorney, according to the appellate court.

Rozak said he was concerned Gold-Smith was attempting to abuse his right to represent himself so he could file a motion his public defender did not want to file but then seek reappointment of a public defender, the appellate court said.

“Judge Rozak was also concerned that Gold-Smith might inform other inmates that they could use the same ploy to avoid being tried by him,” the appellate court said.

Rozak said to Gold-Smith that only his attorney could request a new judge. However, the appellate court found Gold-Smith had a legal right to request a new judge himself.

The appellate court said the “record reveals” that Gold-Smith’s attempt to file the motion himself “was not a part of a serious and obstructionist misconduct,” the appellate court said.

The appellate court said Rozak’s “error” in denying Gold-Smith’s motion “requires that his two convictions and his sentence be vacated.”

The appellate court did not express any opinion on whether Gold-Smith was guilty of the charges, only that a “reasonable finder of fact” could find him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver

Felix Sarver covers crime and courts for The Herald-News