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People v. Parkins

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 19, 1979.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

ROBERT PARKINS ET AL., APPELLEES. — THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

LINDA ROSS, APPELLEE.



Nos. 51467, 51468. — Appeal from the Circuit Court of Winnebago County, the Hon. Bradner C. Riggs, Judge, presiding.

No. 51404. — Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, the Hon. Jerry S. Rhodes, Judge, presiding.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

William J. Scott, Attorney General, and C. Joseph Cavanagh, State's Attorney, both of Springfield (Donald B. Mackay and Melbourne Noel, Jr., Assistant Attorneys General, of Chicago, and Phyllis J. Perko and Barbara A. Preiner, of the State's Attorneys Appellate Service Commission, of Elgin, of counsel), for the People.

John Gray Noll, of Springfield, for appellee.

In causes numbered 51467 and 51468 the People appealed from the judgments of the circuit court of Winnebago County entered upon allowance of the motion to dismiss filed by defendants Robert Parkins and Linda Parkins, charged in a single complaint with the offense of harassment by telephone in violation of section 1-1 of "An Act * * * to prevent harassment by the use of telephone communications * * *" (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 134, par. 16.4-1(2)). In cause No. 51504 the People appeal from the judgment of the circuit court of Sangamon County, entered upon allowance of the motion of defendant Linda Ross to dismiss similar charges. In each instance the circuit court held the statute unconstitutional and the People have appealed pursuant to Rule 302(a)(1) (58 Ill.2d R. 302(a)(1)). The cases were consolidated in this court.

Section 1-1 of the Act in pertinent part provides:

"Harassment by telephone is use of telephone communication for any of the following purposes:

(2) Making a telephone call, whether or not conversation ensues, with intent to abuse, threaten or harass any person at the called number; * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 134, par. 16.4-1(2).

Defendants contend that, when a statute "which is susceptible of application to conduct protected by the First Amendment presents the danger of a `chilling effect,'" it is unconstitutionally overbroad. They argue that the "telephone harassment statute is impermissibly vague because no standard of conduct is specified."

The People submit that "To the extent that the telephone harassment statute might be susceptible to unconstitutionally overly broad interpretation, any such problem may be cured by the imposition by the courts> of this State of a limiting construction on the statute." The People urge this court to give effect to the "clear language of the statute" and hold that the statute, as it currently exists, only applies to telephone calls made "in an unreasonable manner." Further, the People contend that the statute is not vague in giving notice of exactly what conduct is prohibited, and that the language of the subsection is sufficiently specific to allow those charged with enforcing the law to avoid discriminatory enforcement.

In People v. Klick (1977), 66 Ill.2d 269, this court held unconstitutional as overbroad section 26.1(a)(2) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 38, par. 26.1(a)(2)), which in pertinent part provided:

"(a) A person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly:

(2) With intent to annoy another, makes a telephone call, whether or not conversation thereby ensues; * * *."

Subsequent to the filing of our opinion in Klick, the General Assembly enacted the statute upon which these cases are based. Pub. Act 80-795, passed ...


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