People v. Castleberry

Decision Date19 November 2015
Docket NumberNo. 116916.,116916.
Citation43 N.E.3d 932
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellee, v. Steven CASTLEBERRY, Appellant.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

Michael J. Pelletier, State Appellate Defender, Alan D. Goldberg, Deputy Defender, and Elizabeth Cook and Therese N. Bissell, Assistant Appellate Defenders, of the Office of the State Appellate Defender, Chicago, for appellant.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, Springfield, and Anita M. Alvarez, State's Attorney, Chicago (Alan J. Spellberg, Assistant State's Attorney, of counsel), for the People.

OPINION

Justice BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

¶ 1 The principal issue in this appeal is whether the “void sentence rule,” which states that [a] sentence which does not conform to a statutory requirement is void” (People v. Arna, 168 Ill.2d 107, 113, 212 Ill.Dec. 963, 658 N.E.2d 445 (1995) ), should be abandoned. For the reasons that follow, we conclude that recent decisions from this court have undermined the rationale behind the rule to the point that the rule can no longer be considered valid. We therefore abolish the rule.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 The defendant, Steven Castleberry, was convicted in the circuit court of Cook County of two counts of aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12–14(a)(8) (West 2008)), based on separate acts of oral and vaginal contact with the victim. At sentencing, the State argued that defendant was subject to a mandatory 15–year sentencing enhancement on each of the two counts because the crimes had been committed by defendant while he was armed with a firearm (see 720 ILCS 5/12–14(d)(1) (West 2008)). When added to the mandatory minimum term of 6 years' imprisonment for each offense, this meant, according to the State, that defendant was subject to a mandatory minimum term of 21 years' imprisonment on each count.

¶ 4 The circuit court disagreed with the State regarding the application of the 15–year enhancement, concluding that the legislature had intended the enhancement to be applied only once under the circumstances presented. The circuit court sentenced defendant to a 9–year term of imprisonment on each count, adding the 15–year enhancement to only one of the counts. The two sentences were ordered to run consecutively, for a total term of 33 years' imprisonment.

¶ 5 Defendant appealed and raised two arguments. First, defendant maintained that his conviction should be reversed because of errors that occurred during jury selection and, second, defendant contended that the 15–year enhancement was unconstitutional and, therefore, should not have been applied by the circuit court at all. The appellate court rejected both these arguments. 2013 IL App (1st) 111791–U, 2013 WL 5866059. The court affirmed defendant's convictions and held that “the circuit court did not err in applying the 15–year add-on to one of defendant's convictions.” Id. ¶ 36.

¶ 6 However, the appellate court then went on to state that its analysis did “not end there.” Id. ¶ 37. Responding to an argument raised by the State, the appellate court held that the 15–year enhancement was a mandatory statutory requirement that had to be added to the sentence for each of the two counts on which defendant had been convicted. Id. ¶ 38. The court further held that, because the sentence which lacked the enhancement “did not conform to the statutory requirements,” it was “void.” Id. The court remanded the matter to the circuit court for resentencing.

¶ 7 Defendant subsequently filed a petition for leave to appeal in this court which we allowed. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. July 1, 2013).

¶ 8 ANALYSIS

¶ 9 On appeal, defendant does not challenge the appellate court's affirmance of his convictions. Instead, defendant's sole contention is that the appellate court erred when it held that the sentence imposed without the statutory enhancement was void. Defendant maintains that the rule relied upon by the appellate court—that a sentence which does not conform to statutory requirements is void—is no longer valid in light of recent decisions from this court and, thus, could not provide a basis for the appellate court to reverse the circuit court's sentencing order.

¶ 10 In addition, defendant contends that in the absence of the void sentence rule, the appellate court had no authority to consider the State's request to increase his sentence. Instead, according to defendant, the State must seek a writ of mandamus from this court if it wishes to challenge the error committed by the circuit court: to date, the State has not done so. Accordingly, defendant argues that the judgment of the appellate court must be reversed.

¶ 11 To fully understand defendant's argument regarding the void sentence rule some background information is required. This court has explained that [w]hether a judgment is void or voidable presents a question of jurisdiction.” People v. Davis, 156 Ill.2d 149, 155, 189 Ill.Dec. 49, 619 N.E.2d 750 (1993). “Jurisdiction is a fundamental prerequisite to a valid prosecution and conviction. Where jurisdiction is lacking, any resulting judgment rendered is void and may be attacked either directly or indirectly at any time.” Id. A voidable judgment, in contrast, “is one entered erroneously by a court having jurisdiction and is not subject to collateral attack.” Id. at 155–56, 189 Ill.Dec. 49, 619 N.E.2d 750.

¶ 12 Jurisdiction is most commonly understood as consisting of two elements: subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. In re M.W., 232 Ill.2d 408, 414, 328 Ill.Dec. 868, 905 N.E.2d 757 (2009). Subject matter jurisdiction refers to a court's power ‘to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceeding in question belongs.’ Id. at 415, 328 Ill.Dec. 868, 905 N.E.2d 757 (quoting Belleville Toyota, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., 199 Ill.2d 325, 334, 264 Ill.Dec. 283, 770 N.E.2d 177 (2002) ). Personal jurisdiction refers to the court's power ‘to bring a person into its adjudicative process.’ Id. (quoting Black's Law Dictionary 870 (8th ed. 2004)).

¶ 13 However, our cases have at times also held “that the power to render the particular judgment or sentence is as important an element of jurisdiction as is personal jurisdiction and subject matter jurisdiction.” Davis, 156 Ill.2d at 156, 189 Ill.Dec. 49, 619 N.E.2d 750. Based on this idea, the rule has developed which holds that a circuit court which violates a particular statutory requirement when imposing a sentence acts without “ inherent authority” or “inherent power.” And, because the court has acted without power, it has acted without jurisdiction, thereby rendering the sentence void. Thus, the void sentence rule is stated: “A sentence which does not conform to a statutory requirement is void.” Arna, 168 Ill.2d at 113, 212 Ill.Dec. 963, 658 N.E.2d 445.

¶ 14 Defendant argues, however, that other decisions from this court, in particular Steinbrecher v. Steinbrecher, 197 Ill.2d 514, 259 Ill.Dec. 729, 759 N.E.2d 509 (2001), have concluded that the “inherent power” idea of jurisdiction is at odds with the grant of jurisdiction given to the circuit courts under our state constitution and, thus, is invalid. These decisions, defendant contends, have therefore undermined the rationale behind the void sentence rule to the point that it can no longer stand.

¶ 15 The most recent of our decisions addressing the scope of the circuit courts' jurisdiction and the meaning of Steinbrecher is LVNV Funding, LLC v. Trice, 2015 IL 116129, 392 Ill.Dec. 245, 32 N.E.3d 553. Because of its relevance, we quote this decision at length:

Steinbrecher noted that a 1964 constitutional amendment significantly altered the basis of circuit court jurisdiction, granting circuit courts ‘original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters, and such powers of review of administrative action as may be provided by law.’ Ill. Const. 1870, art. VI (amended 1964), § 9. The current Illinois Constitution, adopted in 1970, retained this amendment and provides that Circuit Courts shall have original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters' and that Circuit Courts shall have such power to review administrative action as provided by law.’ Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 9. Steinbrecher reasoned that, because circuit court jurisdiction is granted by the constitution, it cannot be the case that the failure to satisfy a certain statutory requirement or prerequisite can deprive the circuit court of its ‘power’ or jurisdiction to hear a cause of action. Steinbrecher, 197 Ill.2d at 529–32 [259 Ill.Dec. 729, 759 N.E.2d 509].
In so holding, Steinbrecher emphasized the difference between an administrative agency and a circuit court. An administrative agency, Steinbrecher observed, is a purely statutory creature and is powerless to act unless statutory authority exists. Id. at 530 [259 Ill.Dec. 729, 759 N.E.2d 509 ] (citing City of Chicago v. Fair Employment Practices Comm'n, 65 Ill.2d 108, 112 [2 Ill.Dec. 711, 357 N.E.2d 1154] (1976) ). A circuit court, on the other hand, ‘is a court of general jurisdiction, which need not look to the statute for its jurisdictional authority.’ Id. Thus, Steinbrecher concluded that the “inherent power” requirement applies to courts of limited jurisdiction and administrative agencies' but not to circuit courts. Id.
As Steinbrecher makes clear, following the 1964 constitutional amendment and the adoption of the 1970 Constitution, whether a judgment is void in a civil lawsuit that does not involve an administrative tribunal or administrative review depends solely on whether the circuit court which entered the challenged judgment possessed jurisdiction over the parties and the subject matter. ‘Inherent power’ as a separate or third type of jurisdiction applies only to courts of limited jurisdiction or in administrative matters. It has no place in civil actions in the circuit courts, since these courts are granted general jurisdictional authority by the constitution.
Steinbrecher was reaffirmed in Belleville
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