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People v. Cox

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 17, 1980.

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,

v.

CRAIG LEE COX ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Macon County, the Hon. Rodney A. Scott, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE KLUCZYNSKI DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Defendant Craig Lee Cox was charged with the offense of reckless homicide (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 9-3). Following a bench trial on stipulated facts, defendant Cox was convicted and sentenced to a two-year term of imprisonment. Defendant Sharon L. Stevens was charged with the offense of possession of less than 30 grams of a controlled substance (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 56 1/2, par. 1402(b)), phendimetrazine, and with the offense of deceptive practices (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 38, par. 17-1), it being alleged that she issued a check in the amount of $28.75 with knowledge that it would not be paid by the depository. Defendant Stevens entered a plea of guilty to the charge of possession of a controlled substance pursuant to a plea agreement in which the deceptive practice charge was dismissed, and she was sentenced to a two-year term of imprisonment. All proceedings took place in the circuit court of Macon County. These cases were then consolidated on appeal in the appellate court. (77 Ill. App.3d 59.) The appellate court reduced the sentence of defendant Cox to a period of 30 months' probation, with a term of three months' imprisonment as a condition thereof, and remanded the cause to the circuit court for the imposition of additional conditions of probation. In the case of defendant Stevens, the appellate court reduced her sentence to a two-year period of probation and remanded the cause to the circuit court for the imposition of additional conditions of probation, excluding imprisonment. We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal.

The primary issue raised by these consolidated cases is the constitutionality of section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1005-5-4.1), which purports to alter the standard of review of a sentence imposed by a trial judge and authorizes a court of review to enter any sentence that the trial judge could have entered. The section provides:

"Appeal — Modification of Sentence. The defendant has the right of appeal in all cases from sentences entered on conviction of murder or any other Class of felony, however, in all such appeals there is a rebuttable presumption that the sentence imposed by the trial judge is proper. The court to which such appeal is properly taken is authorized to modify the sentence and enter any sentence that the trial judge could have entered, including increasing or decreasing the sentence or entering an alternative sentence to a prison term. However, the appellate court may increase a sentence only in instances where a defendant has filed a notice of appeal and raises the issue of the sentence on appeal." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1005-5-4.1.)

The appellate court held that this provision expanded the scope of review of sentences beyond the abuse-of-discretion standard announced in People v. Perruquet (1977), 68 Ill.2d 149, substituting as the criteria a rebuttable presumption that the sentence was proper, and authorized a court of review to reduce a sentence of imprisonment to one of probation, contrary to our decision in People ex rel. Ward v. Moran (1973), 54 Ill.2d 552. The appellate court found support for this construction in the 1978 amendments to the Unified Code of Corrections. The court noted that these amendments prescribed the inclusion of additional information in the presentence report (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1005-3-2), enumerated objective factors in aggravation and mitigation to be considered in imposing a sentence (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, pars. 1005-5-3.1, 1005-5-3.2, 1005-8-2), and required the trial judge to set forth his reasons on the record in sentencing an offender convicted of a felony (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1005-5-1), and the court reasoned that these provisions were designed to develop a comprehensive record of the sentencing proceeding to enable an expanded scope of review. The appellate court concluded, relying upon People v. Choate (1979), 71 Ill. App.3d 267, that the legislative purpose of eliminating unwarranted disparity in sentencing could only be accomplished if there were a corresponding increase in the authority of reviewing courts> to scrutinize that discretion retained by the sentencing judges. The appellate court did not, however, address the question of a conflict between section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections and Supreme Court Rule 615(b)(4), which provides in relevant part:

(b) "Powers of the Reviewing Court. On appeal the reviewing court may:

(4) reduce the punishment imposed by the trial court." (73 Ill.2d R. 615(b)(4).)

We initially address the arguments of the parties related to the appropriate standard of review of a sentence and the authority of a court of review to modify a sentence.

The State principally contends that section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 38, par. 1005-5-4.1) infringes upon the exclusive power of this court to regulate by rule matters of appellate practice and procedure. The State argues, relying upon the decisions of this court in People v. Perruquet (1977), 68 Ill.2d 149, People v. Rege (1976), 64 Ill.2d 473, People v. Bolyard (1975), 61 Ill.2d 583, and People ex rel. Ward v. Moran (1973), 54 Ill.2d 552, that the provision directly contradicts Supreme Court Rule 615(b)(4) and is therefore unconstitutional. Assuming that the legislature could constitutionally authorize a change in the scope of appellate review of sentences, the State argues in the alternative that the "rebuttable presumption" standard contained in section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections does not in fact expand the scope of review.

Defendants Cox and Stevens, in seeking to sustain the judgment of the appellate court, contend that no conflict exists between section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections and Rule 615(b)(4). Defendants argue, relying upon language contained in People v. Perruquet (1977), 68 Ill.2d 149, 153, that our rule does not define the scope of review of a sentence and that section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections therefore should be considered a complement to our rule rather than in conflict with it. Defendants also argue, assuming the constitutional validity of section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections, that in defining the authority of a court of review to reduce a sentence, our decisions relied in part upon the statutory provisions then in existence and that we therefore must re-examine this issue in light of the authority granted in section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections.

Article VI, section 1, of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 states: "The judicial power is vested in a Supreme Court, an Appellate Court, and Circuit Courts>." Judicial power is not defined in the Constitution, but all such power is exclusively and exhaustively granted to the courts>. (Strukoff v. Strukoff (1979), 76 Ill.2d 53, 57; People v. Jackson (1977), 69 Ill.2d 252, 256; Agran v. Checker Taxi Co. (1952), 412 Ill. 145, 149.) If the power is judicial in character, it necessarily follows that the legislature is expressly prohibited from exercising it. (People v. Jackson (1977), 69 Ill.2d 252, 256; Agran v. Checker Taxi Co. (1952), 412 Ill. 145, 149; People v. Bruner (1931), 343 Ill. 146, 157.) It is equally clear that this court possesses the rulemaking authority to regulate the trial of cases (Strukoff v. Strukoff (1979), 76 Ill.2d 53, 58), and the authority to regulate appeals (People ex rel. Stamos v. Jones (1968), 40 Ill.2d 62, 66). Although it is true that the legislature has the power to enact laws governing judicial practice where it does not unduly infringe upon the inherent powers of the judiciary (Strukoff v. Strukoff (1979), 76 Ill.2d 53, 59; Agran v. Checker Taxi Co. (1952), 412 Ill. 145, 149), where a rule of this court on a matter within the court's authority and a statute on the same subject conflict, the rule will prevail. (People v. Jackson (1977), 69 Ill.2d 252, 259; People ex rel. Stamos v. Jones (1968), 40 Ill.2d 62, 66; see generally L. Bonaguro, The Supreme Court's Exclusive Rulemaking Authority, 67 Ill. Bar. J. 408 (1979); Note, People ex rel. Stamos v. Jones: A Restraint on Legislative Revision of the Illinois Supreme Court Rules, 6 J. Mar. J. Prac. & Proc. 382 (1973).) "Were this not true, a basic tenet of our democratic form of government would be destroyed, and the relevant constitutional provisions rendered nugatory. It is the undisputed duty of the court to protect its judicial powers from encroachment by legislative enactments, and thus preserve an independent judicial department." Agran v. Checker Taxi Co. (1952), 412 Ill. 145, 149.

We initially note our agreement with the appellate court that the legislature, in enacting section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections, intended to modify the standard of review of sentencing and intended to authorize a court of review to reduce a sentence of imprisonment to one of probation. We hold, however, that the provision is in direct conflict with the decisions of this court which have interpreted the scope of Supreme Court Rule 615(b)(4). In People v. Perruquet, interpreting our rule, we announced that the standard of review of a sentence claimed to be excessive is whether in fact the trial court exercised its discretion and, if so, whether this discretion was abused. (68 Ill.2d 149, 154.) In People v. Rege, People v. Bolyard, and People ex rel. Ward v. Moran, we determined that Rule 615 does not authorize a reviewing court to reduce a sentence of imprisonment to one of probation. (See People v. Rege (1976), 64 Ill.2d 473, 482; People v. Bolyard (1975), 61 Ill.2d 583, 589; People ex rel. Ward v. Moran (1973), 54 Ill.2d 552, 556.) Rule 615, on its face, addresses itself to the reduction of a sentence, rendering inconsistent that portion of section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections which authorizes a court of review to increase the sentence imposed by the trial court. To the extent that this provision is inconsistent with our rule, and the decisions defining the scope of our rule, section 5-5-4.1 of the Unified Code of Corrections infringes upon the exclusive power of this court to regulate by rule matters of appellate practice and procedure. (People ex rel. Stamos v. Jones (1968), 40 Ill.2d 62, 66.) Even if we were to assume, as defendants suggest, that our rule did not address the standard of review of a sentence, section 5-5-4.1 would constitute an unauthorized legislative intrusion upon the manner in which cases are decided. (Otis Elevator Co. v. Industrial Com. (1922), 302 Ill. 90, 94.) Because we have determined that this provision is null and void, we need not address defendants' argument concerning its impact upon the authority of a reviewing court to reduce a sentence of imprisonment to one of probation.

Defendants Cox and Stevens argue in the alternative that the sentences imposed are excessive and that the trial court abused its discretion in entering their sentences. The facts of these individual cases are adequately developed in the appellate ...


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