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02/20/87 the People of the State of v. Reginald Wade

February 20, 1987

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE

v.

REGINALD WADE, APPELLANT



SUPREME COURT OF ILLINOIS

506 N.E.2d 954, 116 Ill. 2d 1, 107 Ill. Dec. 63 1987.IL.198

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Romie Palmer, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE WARD delivered the opinion of the court. JUSTICE SIMON, specially Concurring.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WARD

The defendant, Reginald Wade, pleaded guilty to a charge of robbery (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 18-1(a)) as part of a negotiated plea agreement in which the parties stipulated that the defendant had no prior convictions. Pursuant to that agreement, the defendant was sentenced to 90 days in the Cook County House of Corrections, with time considered served, and to 36 months' probation. Nine months later, the trial court was informed by a probation officer that the defendant had previously been convicted of armed robbery and rape, which had made him ineligible for probation under the Unified Code of Corrections (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 1005-5-3(c)(2)). When the defendant was returned to court, the Judge rejected his argument that the court had lost jurisdiction 30 days after entering the sentencing order. The trial court held the order granting probation void on the ground that Wade was not eligible for probation at the time of sentencing, because of his past convictions. After the court vacated the probation order, the defendant was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea and enter a plea of not guilty. Following a jury trial presided over by the Judge who had imposed the sentence of probation, the defendant was found guilty of robbery and sentenced to a term of nine years. The appellate court affirmed Wade's conviction (137 Ill. App. 3d 878), and this court granted his petition for leave to appeal (103 Ill. 2d R. 315).

The defendant was convicted of armed robbery and rape in 1979 and sentenced to six years' imprisonment. His negotiated plea of guilty to the robbery charge concerned here was entered in 1982. He contends that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to vacate the judgment of probation, as Wade says it was a valid judgment because it was based on the evidence presented at the time of sentencing. Accordingly, he argues that the trial court had the power to modify or vacate the judgment only within 30 days of its entry (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 1005-8-1(c)). Wade says the court lost jurisdiction 30 days after imposing the original sentence, leaving the court without authority to vacate the sentence some 11 months later.

The State argues that the defendant was not eligible for probation on his guilty plea to the robbery charge, as section 5-5-3(c)(2)of the Unified Code of Corrections provides that an offender shall not receive probation if he has been convicted of a Class 2 or a greater felony in the 10 years preceding the Class 2 or greater felony for which he is being sentenced (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 1005-5-3(c)(2)). Rape is a Class X felony (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 11-1(c)), greater than Class 2. Wade's conviction of that crime had occurred less than four years before his plea of guilty to the robbery, a Class 2 offense (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 38, par. 18-1(b)). The State argues that, because the statute prohibits probation in this situation, the court could not sentence Wade to probation. Because the court lacked authority to impose probation, the State says the court's first sentencing order was void and could be set aside at any time. The trial court, the State concludes, retained jurisdiction over the defendant and subject matter to set aside the void sentence.

A void judgment is one entered by a court without jurisdiction of the parties or the subject matter or that lacks "the inherent power to make or enter the particular order involved." (R.W. Sawant & Co. v. Allied Programs Corp. (1986), 111 Ill. 2d 304, 309; City of Chicago v. Fair Employment Practices Com. (1975), 65 Ill. 2d 108, 112.) A void judgment may be attacked at any time, either directly or collaterally. City of Chicago v. Fair Employment Practices Com. (1976), 65 Ill. 2d 108; Illinois Coach Co. v. Commerce Com. (1951), 408 Ill. 104; see also In re C.T. (1985), 137 Ill. App. 3d 42, 46.

The defendant, citing Orrway Motor Service, Inc. v. Illinois Commerce Com. (1976), 40 Ill. App. 3d 869, 873, contends that a sentence is void only if the record before the court furnished facts showing that the court acted without jurisdiction. He says that the record before the trial court at the initial sentencing hearing supported imposition of probation as there was no evidence presented of Wade's prior convictions. Based on the information available to the court at the first sentencing hearing, the defendant contends the granting of probation was proper. The argument is not valid. This court decided in People ex rel. Carey v. Bentivenga (1981), 83 Ill. 2d 537, 544, and People ex rel. Ward v. Salter (1963), 28 Ill. 2d 612, 615, that a trial court has an obligation to order the criminal penalties mandated by the legislature. (See also People ex rel. Hanrahan v. Wilson (1971), 48 Ill. 2d 30.) The legislature has authority to define crimes and establish the nature and extent of criminal penalties, and a court exceeds its authority if it orders a lesser sentence than is mandated by statute, unless "the [mandated] penalty shocks the conscience of reasonable men." (People ex rel. Ward v. Salter (1963), 28 Ill. 2d 612, 615; see also People ex rel. Carey v. Bentivenga (1981), 83 Ill. 2d 537, 542.) A trial court, upon determination of guilt, has no authority to assess a fine or impose a sentence other than that provided by statute. People ex rel. Daley v. Suria (1986), 112 Ill. 2d 26, 38; People ex rel. Carey v. Bentivenga (1981), 83 Ill. 2d 537, 542; People ex rel. Ward v. Moran (1973), 54 Ill. 2d 552, 556; People ex rel. Ward v. Salter (1963), 28 Ill. 2d 612, 615; see also In re C.T. (1985), 137 Ill. App. 3d 42, 46.

Wade says, however, that Bentivenga and Salter support his argument that a sentence is void only if the evidence before the court does not support the court's sentence. The defendant says that neither the sentence in Bentivenga nor the fine in Salter was authorized by statute, as appeared from the facts known to each court at the time of sentencing. The defendant seems to conclude that a judgment is not void unless the court knew that it was exceeding its authority when it entered the judgment. The defendant seriously misconstrues Bentivenga and Salter. Those decisions did not hold that knowledge of the trial court that it was exceeding its authority is prerequisite to a reviewing court's determination that the trial court's judgment was void.

Wade also contends that the trial court's vacature of the probation term improperly allowed the State a second opportunity to produce evidence against the defendant at the jury trial. The defendant says the State should have been precluded from reopening the case as it failed to investigate the defendant's background for the first sentencing hearing. This contention is not convincing. Both parties stipulated at the first sentencing that the defendant had no prior convictions, and there was no necessity of a formal sentencing hearing on a negotiated plea. People v. Barto (1976), 63 Ill. 2d 17, 22.

The defendant contends also that, under Supreme Court Rule 402(d)(2), the sentencing Judge should have recused himself at the ...


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