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11/20/97 SILAS FLETCHER v. JAMES K. WILLIAMS ET AL.

November 20, 1997

SILAS FLETCHER, APPELLEE,
v.
JAMES K. WILLIAMS ET AL., APPELLANTS.-THEODORE PARSONS, APPELLEE, V. JAMES K. WILLIAMS ET AL., APPELLANTS.-CARL REIMANN, APPELLEE, V. JAMES K. WILLIAMS ET AL., APPELLANTS.



Appeal from the Circuit Court, Lee County. CASE NUMBERS: TR96MR32, TR96MR26, TR96MR25. TRIAL JUDGE: Hon. Tomas M. Magdich.

Chief Justice Freeman delivered the opinion of the court.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Freeman

CHIEF JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the opinion of the court:

Section 3-3-5(f) of the Unified Code of Corrections formerly required the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, after initially denying a prisoner parole, to schedule a parole hearing for the prisoner every year. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 38, par. 1003-3-5(f). That section, as amended, now permits the Board to schedule a prisoner's next parole hearing at an interval of up to three years "if the Board finds that it is not reasonable to expect that parole would be granted at a hearing prior to the scheduled rehearing date." 730 ILCS 5/3-3-5(f) (West 1996).

At issue is whether amended Corrections Code section 3-3-5(f), as applied to the plaintiffs in these three consolidated appeals, is an ex post facto law and, therefore, unconstitutional. Pursuant to California Department of Corrections v. Morales, 514 U.S. 499, 131 L. Ed. 2d 588, 115 S. Ct. 1597 (1995), we hold that amended section 3-3-5(f) does not violate the constitutional prohibitions against ex post facto laws in these cases.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs, Silas Fletcher, Carl Reimann, and Theodore Parsons, are prisoners in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections at Dixon Correctional Center. Fletcher was convicted of the aggravated kidnapping and murder of a police officer and sentenced to serve 100 to 200 years in prison. See People v. Fletcher, 59 Ill. App. 3d 310, 17 Ill. Dec. 49, 375 N.E.2d 1333 (1978). Reimann and his codefendant were convicted of five murders in the course of an armed robbery and received concurrent prison sentences of 50 to 150 years for each murder and 20 to 60 years for the armed robbery. See People v. Piche, 44 Ill. App. 3d 993, 3 Ill. Dec. 575, 358 N.E.2d 1260 (1976). Parsons and his codefendants were convicted of two murders and an attempted murder in the course of an armed robbery. See People v. Gleckler, 82 Ill. 2d 145, 44 Ill. Dec. 483, 411 N.E.2d 849 (1980). Parsons received consecutive sentences of 150 to 1,000 years for the murders, 30 years for the attempted murder, and 30 years for the armed robbery.

Each plaintiff appeared before the Illinois Prisoner Review Board, chaired by James K. Williams (herein jointly referred to as the Board), for an annual parole hearing: the thirteenth parole hearing for Fletcher, the seventh for Reimann, and the second for Parsons. In each case, the Board denied parole and scheduled the next parole hearing for three years later. We note that in Fletcher's and Parsons' cases, the Board expressly cited to amended section 3-3-5(f). See 730 ILCS 5/3-3-5(f) (West 1996).

Each plaintiff brought an action in the circuit court of Lee County against the Board. Plaintiffs sought a declaration that amended section 3-3-5(f), as applied to them, is an unconstitutional ex post facto law; and either an injunction precluding the Board from scheduling subsequent parole hearings in three-year intervals, or an order forcing the Board to provide them with annual parole hearings.

We note that Fletcher and Reimann also included a count in each of their complaints alleging that Public Act 89-428, in which amended section 3-3-5(f) was enacted, violates the single-subject rule of the Illinois Constitution. Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, § 8(d). Reimann additionally alleged that the Board's rationale for his parole denial did not include the finding required by amended section 3-3-5(f) that it was "not reasonable to expect that parole would be granted at a hearing prior to the scheduled rehearing date." 730 ILCS 5/3-3-5(f) (West 1996).

The circuit court addressed only the ex post facto issue. Relying on Tiller v. Klincar, 138 Ill. 2d 1, 149 Ill. Dec. 206, 561 N.E.2d 576 (1990), the circuit court declared amended section 3-3-5(f) as applied to plaintiffs an unconstitutional ex post facto law. The court enjoined the Board from scheduling subsequent parole hearings for plaintiffs less frequently than once per year. The court found no just cause to delay the enforcement or appeal of the decision. See 155 Ill. 2d R. 304(a).

The State appeals directly to this court. 134 Ill. 2d R. 302(a). We consolidated these cases for review, and now reverse the circuit court.

ARGUMENT(S)

Jurisdiction

The issue of whether amended Corrections Code section 3-3-5(f) as applied to plaintiffs is an unconstitutional ex post facto law is appealable because the circuit court made the requisite finding pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 304(a). 155 Ill. 2d R. 304(a). The appeal lies directly to this court because the circuit court found that the statute as applied to plaintiffs is unconstitutional. 134 Ill. 2d R. 302(a). See, e.g., Barger v. Peters, 163 Ill. 2d 357, 206 Ill. Dec. 170, 645 N.E.2d 175 (1994); Tiller v. Klincar, 138 Ill. 2d 1, 149 Ill. Dec. 206, 561 N.E.2d 576 (1990).

We note that amended section 3-3-5(f) was enacted as part of Public Act 89-428. Pub. Act 89-428, art. 5, eff. December 13, 1995. This court recently invalidated Public Act 89-428 because it violated the single-subject rule of the 1970 Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, § 8(d)). Johnson v. Edgar, 176 Ill. 2d 499, 224 Ill. Dec. 1, 680 N.E.2d 1372 (1997). In Johnson, "the defect we identified in Public Act 89-428 was in the structure of the Act, not in its substantive provisions." Johnson, 176 Ill. 2d at 521.

The legislature reenacted amended section 3-3-5(f) in Public Act 89-689. Pub. Act 89-689, § 100, eff. December 31, 1996; see Johnson, 176 Ill. 2d at 510. Thus, we are now squarely presented with the issue of whether amended section 3-3-5(f) as ...


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