Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Marvin
E. Aspen, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE DOOLEY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant, Derrick Jackson, was tried by a jury in Cook County on a charge of armed robbery, found guilty, and sentenced to imprisonment for a term of four years to four years and one day.
The circuit court held unconstitutional a 1975 amendment to section 115-4(f) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 relating to the voir dire examination of prospective jurors (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 115-4(f)). This gave defendant a direct appeal under Rule 302(a) of this court. 58 Ill.2d R. 302(a).
Section 115-4(f) now reads:
"After examination by the court the jurors shall be examined, passed upon, accepted and tendered as a panel of 4 commencing with the State. Each opposing counsel has the right to conduct his own voir dire of each prospective juror for the purpose of determining such juror's qualifications, bias and prejudice, or freedom therefrom." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 115-4(f).
Rule 234 of this court (58 Ill.2d R. 234) also deals with voir dire. It provides:
"The court shall conduct the voir dire examination of prospective jurors by putting to them questions it thinks appropriate touching their qualifications to serve as jurors in the case on trial. The court may permit the parties to submit additional questions to it for further inquiry if it thinks they are appropriate, or may permit the parties to supplement the examination by such direct inquiry as the court deems proper. Questions shall not directly or indirectly concern matters of law or instructions."
Rule 234 is made applicable to criminal trials by Rule 431 (58 Ill.2d R. 431).
Defendant asserts that the trial court erred in refusing to follow the procedure prescribed by section 115-4(f) since the statute was a proper exercise of a legislative function and superseded Rule 234. The State contends that the statute is invalid since it encroaches upon the rule-making power of this court, which, it urges, is a judicial function.
The question is whether Supreme Court Rule 234 or the statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 115-4(f)) regulates the method of voir dire examination of prospective jurors. This issue resolves itself to whether control of voir dire examination is a judicial or legislative function. The controversy thus involves separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches.
The Illinois Constitution of 1970 provides for a separation of the legislative, executive and judicial branches, and prohibits any branch from exercising powers "properly belonging to another." Ill. Const. 1970, art. II, sec. 1.
The judicial power is vested in a supreme court, appellate courts> and circuit courts> (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 1), and the general administrative and supervisory authority over all courts> "is vested in the Supreme Court and shall be exercised by the Chief Justice in accordance with its rules" (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 16). The term "supervisory" was employed to fortify the concept of a centrally supervised court system. Ill. Ann. Stat., Const. of 1970, art. VI, sec. 16, Constitutional Commentary, at 527-28 (Smith-Hurd 1971).
This court may provide by rule for direct appeals from the circuit court to this court (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 4(b)); by rule for appeals from the appellate court (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 4(c)); by rule for interlocutory appeals (Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, sec. 6); and by rule ...