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In re Detention of Lieberman

July 3, 2002

IN RE DETENTION OF BRAD LIEBERMAN (THE PEOPLE OF THESTATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,
v.
BRAD LIEBERMAN, APPELLEE).



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McMORROW

UNPUBLISHED

Docket No. 91344-Agenda 13-January 2002.

In 1980, respondent, Brad Lieberman, was convicted of seven counts of rape. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 11-1. In January 2000, the State filed a petition in the circuit court of Cook County alleging that respondent is a "sexually violent person" subject to involuntary civil commitment pursuant to the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (the Act or Commitment Act) (725 ILCS 207/1 et seq. (West 1998)). At issue in this appeal is whether respondent's 1980 convictions for the crime of rape constitute "sexually violent" offenses subjecting him to commitment as a "sexually violent person" under the version of the Commitment Act in effect at the time the State filed the petition at bar. *fn1 The circuit court of Cook County denied respondent's motion to dismiss the State's petition to commit him as a sexually violent person. The circuit court thereafter certified the following question for interlocutory appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308(a) (155 Ill. 2d R. 308(a)): "Whether the Respondent's conviction for the crime of rape (Ill. Rev. Stat. Ch. 38 §11-1) is a conviction of a sexually violent offense for purposes of a civil commitment of a `sexually violent person' under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act, 725 ILCS 207[/1] et seq." The appellate court granted respondent's application for leave to file an interlocutory appeal. The appellate court answered the certified question in the negative, and reversed the judgment of the circuit court. 319 Ill. App. 3d 1020. For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the appellate court.

BACKGROUND

In 1980, respondent was convicted in the circuit court of Cook County of six counts of rape (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 11-1(a)) and one count of attempted rape. That same year, respondent was found guilty of one count of rape and one count of attempted rape in Lake County. Respondent was sentenced to a number of terms of imprisonment to run concurrently, the longest of which required him to serve 40 years in prison.

Respondent was scheduled to be released from the Illinois Department of Corrections on January 9, 2000. On January 6, 2000, the State filed in the circuit court of Cook County a petition pursuant to section 15 of the Commitment Act (725 ILCS 207/15 (West 1998)) alleging that respondent is a "sexually violent person" within the meaning of section 5(f) of the Act (725 ILCS 207/5(f) (West 1998)) and therefore subject to involuntary civil commitment to the control, care and custody of the Department of Human Services. In support of this petition, the State alleged that in 1980 respondent was convicted of seven "sexually violent offenses" in Cook County and two "sexually violent offenses" in Lake County. The petition further alleged that respondent suffers from several mental disorders, including paraphilia and "sexually attracted to non-consenting females, non-exclusive type." The petition also alleged that respondent is subject to involuntary civil commitment under the Act because he is "dangerous to others" and that "his mental disorders create a substantial probability that he will engage in future acts of sexual violence."

Respondent filed a motion to dismiss the State's petition pursuant to section 2-615 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-615 (West 1998)). In his dismissal motion, respondent noted that the crime of rape was abolished by the General Assembly in 1984 as part of a comprehensive rewriting of this state's sex offense statutes. Respondent further observed that, under the version of section 5(e) of the Commitment Act (725 ILCS 205/5(e) (West 1998)) in effect at the time the State filed the petition at bar, a "[s]exually violent offense" for purposes of the Act was defined as criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-13 (West 1998)), aggravated criminal sexual assault (720 ILCS 5/12-14 (West 1998)), predatory criminal sexual assault of a child (720 ILCS 5/12-14.1 (West 1998)), and aggravated criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-16 (West 1998)). Respondent argued that because the crime of rape was not included in section 5(e)'s definition of a "sexually violent offense," the State's petition failed to allege a claim under the Act and warranted dismissal.

On February 1, 2000, the circuit court denied respondent's motion to dismiss. The circuit court judge found that the offense of criminal sexual assault "replaced rape" in the Criminal Code of 1961, and he regarded the two offenses "as basically the same." The circuit court judge further found that "the legislature did not spell out rape [in section 5(e) of the Commitment Act] because rape was not on the books. They did spell out criminal sexual assault which I believe incorporates rape." Therefore, the circuit court judge concluded, respondent's convictions for rape fell within section 5(e)'s definition of a "sexually violent offense" and respondent was subject to proceedings under the Commitment Act.

On February 9, 2000, the circuit court certified the following question for review, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308(a) (155 Ill. 2d R. 308(a)): "Whether the Respondent's conviction for the crime of rape (Ill. Rev. Stat. Ch. 38 §11-1) is a conviction of a sexually violent offense for the purpose of a civil commitment of a `sexually violent person' under the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act, 725 ILCS 207[/1] et seq." The appellate court granted respondent's petition for leave to appeal.

The appellate court answered the certified question in the negative and reversed the judgment of the circuit court. 319 Ill. App. 3d 1020. The appellate court found that the version of section 5(e) of the Commitment Act in effect at the time the State's petition was filed did not include the now-abolished offense of rape within the definition of "sexually violent offenses." Therefore, the appellate court concluded, a petition for involuntary commitment brought pursuant to the Act cannot be based upon a rape conviction. In addition, the appellate court rejected the argument advanced by the State that because the elements of the former offense of rape were "subsumed" into the subsequently enacted offenses of criminal and aggravated criminal sexual assault, respondent's convictions for rape were "sexually violent offenses" within the meaning of the Commitment Act. As a final matter, the appellate court ruled that the legislature's subsequent amendment to section 5(e) of the Act adding the offense of rape to the definition of a "sexually violent offense" (725 ILCS 207/5(e)(1.5) (West 2000)) supported its conclusion that the Act as originally drafted did not intend for rape to be included within the definition of a "sexually violent offense." We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal under our Rule 315 (177 Ill. 2d R. 315).

ANALYSIS

We are asked in this appeal to determine whether a conviction for the crime of rape constitutes a "sexually violent offense" within the meaning of the version of the Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act (725 ILCS 207/1 et seq. (West 1998)) in effect at the time the State filed its petition in the circuit court. The issue before us is a matter of statutory construction. Accordingly, our review is de novo (Sylvester v. Industrial Comm'n, 197 Ill. 2d 225, 232 (2001)), and our inquiry is conducted within a familiar analytic framework.

It is well settled that the primary objective of this court in construing the meaning of a statute is to ascertain and give effect to the intention of the legislature. Michigan Avenue National Bank v. County of Cook, 191 Ill. 2d 493, 503-04 (2000). All other rules of statutory construction are subordinate to this cardinal principle. Sylvester, 197 Ill. 2d at 232; Henrich v. Libertyville High School, 186 Ill. 2d 381, 387 (1998). We determine legislative intent by examining the language of the statute, which is "the most reliable indicator of the legislature's objectives in enacting a particular law." Michigan Avenue National Bank, 191 Ill. 2d at 504; see also In re D.L., 191 Ill. 2d 1, 9 (2000); Nottage v. Jeka, 172 Ill. 2d 386, 392 (1996). The statutory language is to be given its plain, ordinary and popularly understood meaning (Union Electric Co. v. Department of Revenue, 136 Ill. 2d 385, 397 (1990)), and we are to afford the statutory language the fullest, rather than narrowest, possible meaning to which it is susceptible (Lake County Board of Review v. Property Tax Appeal Board, 119 Ill. 2d 419, 423 (1988)).

Because all provisions of a statutory enactment are viewed as a whole (Michigan Avenue National Bank, 191 Ill. 2d at 504; Bubb v. Springfield School District 186, 167 Ill. 2d 372, 382 (1995)), words and phrases should not be construed in isolation, but must be interpreted in light of other relevant provisions of the statute (Sylvester, 197 Ill. 2d at 232; Michigan Avenue National Bank, 191 Ill. 2d at 504). Each word, clause and sentence of the statute, if possible, must be given reasonable meaning and not rendered superfluous. Sylvester, 197 Ill. 2d at 232; A.P. Properties, Inc. v. Goshinsky, 186 Ill. 2d 524, 532 (1999). Accordingly, in determining the intent of the legislature, the court may properly consider not only the language of the statute, but also the reason and necessity for the law, the evils sought to be remedied, and the purpose to be achieved. People v. Pullen, 192 Ill. 2d 36, 42 (2000); Stern v. Norwest Mortgage, Inc., 179 Ill. 2d 160, 164 (1997); People v. Frieberg, 147 Ill. 2d 326, 345 (1992). "Legislative intent can be ascertained from a consideration of the entire Act, its nature, its object and the consequences that would result from construing it one way or the other." Fumarolo v. Chicago Board of Education, 142 Ill. 2d 54, 96 (1990); see also People ex rel. Meyer v. Gerner, 35 Ill. 2d 33, 39 (1966); Carrigan v. Liquor Control Comm'n, 19 Ill. 2d 230, 233 (1960). In construing a statute, we also presume that the General Assembly, in its enactment of legislation, did not intend absurdity, inconvenience or injustice. Michigan Avenue National Bank, 191 ...


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