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People v. Worden

October 27, 1998

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MARTIN J. WORDEN, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rathje

IN THE APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS SECOND DISTRICT

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Stephenson County.

No. 95--CF--386

Honorable Charles R. Hartman, Judge, Presiding.

Defendant, Martin Worden, pleaded guilty to aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12--14(b)(1) (West 1994)). The trial court sentenced him to six years' imprisonment. Defendant appeals, contending that he should have the mittimus corrected to reflect that he is eligible for good-conduct credit without reference to the recently enacted truth-in-sentencing legislation. We affirm the judgment as modified.

Defendant agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a six-year sentence and the State's agreement to dismiss two misdemeanor charges. After delaying sentencing to examine the presentence materials, the trial court concurred in the agreement and sentenced defendant to six years in prison.

Defendant filed a pro se notice of appeal that included allegations amounting to grounds to withdraw his guilty plea. This court found that the trial court's admonishments pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 605(b) (145 Ill. 2d R. 605(b)) were insufficient and remanded the cause to the trial court to permit defendant to file a postplea motion. People v. Worden, No. 2--96--0607 (October 18, 1996) (unpublished order pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 23).

Defendant thereafter moved to withdraw his guilty plea, contending that he was mistakenly told that the "truth-in-sentencing" provisions requiring him to serve at least 85% of his sentence did not apply to him. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the motion. Defendant filed a timely notice of appeal.

On appeal, defendant argues that he is not subject to the truth-in-sentencing provisions because this court has held the implementing legislation unconstitutional. In People v. Reedy, 295 Ill. App. 3d 34, 42 (1998), appeal allowed, 178 Ill. 2d 591 (1998), we held that Public Act 89--404, (Pub. Act 89--404, eff. August 20, 1995) containing the truth-in-sentencing provisions, was passed in violation of the single subject rule of the Illinois constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, §8(d)).

The State responds to defendant's argument by asking us to overrule Reedy. The State maintains that it can demonstrate a natural and logical connection between the various sections of Public Act 89--404. Therefore, the act does not violate the constitution because all of its provisions pertain to a single subject.

We issued Reedy on March 11, 1998. Generally, when a rule of law has been settled, contravening no statute or constitutional principles, the rule ought to be followed under the doctrine of stare decisis unless it can be shown that serious detriment is likely to arise that will prejudice the public interest. Pasquale v. Speed Products Engineering, 166 Ill. 2d 337, 349 (1995). Stare decisis is a policy of the courts to leave settled points of law undisturbed. People v. Goebel, 284 Ill. App. 3d 618, 624 (1996). Absent compelling reasons for doing so, courts are reluctant to abandon or modify an earlier decision of the court soon after its adoption. People v. Delatorre, 279 Ill. App. 3d 1014, 1020 (1996).

The State, while castigating this court for "consistently declin[ing] to reconsider the Reedy decision or to even address the new arguments," does not itself address the important policy considerations underlying the stare decisis doctrine. The State does not posit any "serious detriment" it will suffer if Reedy is left undisturbed. As both parties point out, Reedy is presently on appeal to the supreme court. If this court were to overrule Reedy at this point in time, the decision would likely have little practical effect. However, because Public Act 89--404 does implicate potentially important public interests, and in the interest of maintaining a sound, well-reasoned body of precedent, we will consider the State's arguments.

Article IV, section 8(d) of the Illinois Constitution provides as follows:

"Bills, except bills for appropriations and for the codification, revision or rearrangement of laws, shall be confined to one subject." ...


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