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People v. Gilmore

OPINION FILED MARCH 18, 1976.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

NORMAN GILMORE, APPELLEE. — THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

WILLIAM HOLLOMAN, APPELLEE.



No. 47691. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Third District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Grundy County; the Hon. Robert W. Malmquist, Judge, presiding.

No. 47766. — Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Second District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Lee County; the Hon. James E. Bales, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

William J. Scott, Attorney General, of Springfield, and Patrick E. Ward, State's Attorney, of Dixon (James B. Zagel and Jayne A. Carr, Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, and Edward N. Morris, Illinois State's Attorneys Association, Statewide Appellate Assistance Service, of Elgin, of counsel), for the People.

Ralph Ruebner, Deputy Defender, Office of State Appellate Defender, of Elgin (Ira A. Moltz, Assistant Defender, of counsel), for appellee.

Defendant Norman L. Gilmore (Docket No. 47691) pleaded guilty in the circuit court of Grundy County to four counts of an information charging burglary and three counts charging forgery and was sentenced to the penitentiary. He appealed and the appellate court reversed the convictions on the forgery counts, affirmed on the burglary counts and remanded for resentencing. (28 Ill. App.3d 130.) We allowed the People's petition for leave to appeal.

In a jury trial in the circuit court of Lee County, defendant William Holloman (Docket No. 47766) was convicted of forgery and sentenced to the penitentiary. The appellate court reversed (30 Ill. App.3d 822), and we allowed the People's petition for leave to appeal. The cases present identical issues and were consolidated for opinion.

In each case the judgment was reversed on the ground that although the information (47691) and the indictment (47766) were otherwise sufficient to charge the offense of forgery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 17-3) by means of a check, the failure to set forth the payees named in the checks rendered them fatally defective. In neither case did the defendant attack the information or indictment in the circuit court and the question of their sufficiency was raised for the first time in the appellate court. The facts are adequately set forth in the appellate court opinions and need not be restated.

The People contend that the information and indictment were sufficient to charge the offense of forgery, to inform the defendants, respectively, of the "exact offense" and "to act as a bar to subsequent jeopardy." Defendants contend that in failing to allege the existence or identity of a payee the information and indictment "failed to allege an instrument apparently capable of defrauding" as required by section 17-3 of the Criminal Code and that they are "insufficient to charge an offense or to confer jurisdiction." They argue that prior to our decision in People v. Pujoue, 61 Ill.2d 335, this court had consistently held that a defective indictment failed to confer "subject matter" jurisdiction on the circuit court; that the lack of jurisdiction could not be waived and that a judgment of conviction void by reason of such failure of jurisdiction could be attacked at any time.

It is true that there is language in earlier decisions of this court which would appear to support defendants' argument, but their contention that the circuit courts lacked jurisdiction to enter the judgments, and that the judgments are therefore void, will not withstand analysis in the light of the relevant constitutional and statutory provisions. The jurisdiction of the circuit courts in these cases was not "conferred" by the information or indictment; jurisdiction was conferred by the provisions of section 9 of article VI of the Constitution, which provides that the circuit courts have "original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters." The circuit courts have jurisdiction in all cases involving offenses which fall within the ambit of section 1-5 of the Criminal Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 1-5), which provides:

"Sec. 1-5. State Criminal Jurisdiction.

(a) A person is subject to prosecution in this State for an offense which he commits, while either within or outside the State, by his own conduct or that of another for which he is legally accountable, if:

(1) The offense is committed either wholly or partly within the State; or

(2) The conduct outside the State constitutes an attempt to commit an offense within the State; or

(3) The conduct outside the State constitutes a conspiracy to commit an offense within the State, and an act in furtherance of the ...


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