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People v. Purcell

October 03, 2002

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,
v.
WILLARD PURCELL, APPELLEE.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garman

Docket No. 92739-Agenda 10-March 2002.

In August 2001, defendant was arrested and indicted in the circuit court of Winnebago County on four counts of first degree murder pursuant to sections 9-1(a)(2), (a)(3), and (b)(19) of the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2), (a)(3), (b)(19) (West 2000)). On appeal following denial of bail, the appellate court declared unconstitutional section 110-4(b) of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (the Code) (725 ILCS 5/110-4(b) (West 2000)) and remanded the matter to the trial court for consideration of defendant's bail request. 325 Ill. App. 3d 551. We granted the State's timely appeal. 177 Ill. 2d R. 315; 134 Ill. 2d R. 317. We affirm and hold that section 110-4(b) violates article I, section 9, of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §9).

BACKGROUND

In August 2001, defendant was arrested and indicted on four counts of first degree murder. 720 ILCS 5/9-1(a)(2), (a)(3), (b)(19) (West 2000). The defendant allegedly killed his wife by striking her repeatedly in the head with a blunt object. If convicted of the charged offense, defendant would be eligible to receive a sentence of life imprisonment. 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(1)(b) (West 2000). Defendant filed motions requesting bail and seeking a determination that section 110-4(b) of the Code (725 ILCS 5/110-4(b) (West 2000)) is unconstitutional.

The right of an accused to obtain pretrial bail is governed by article I, section 9, of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §9). This section provides:

"All persons shall be bailable by sufficient sureties, except for the following offenses where the proof is evident or the presumption great: capital offenses; offenses for which a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed as a consequence of conviction; and felony offenses for which a sentence of imprisonment, without conditional and revocable release, shall be imposed by law as a consequence of conviction, when the court, after a hearing, determines that release of the offender would pose a real and present threat to the physical safety of any person. The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended except in cases of rebellion or invasion when the public safety may require it.

Any costs accruing to a unit of local government as a result of the denial of bail pursuant to the 1986 Amendment to this Section shall be reimbursed by the State to the unit of local government." (Emphases added.) Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §9.

On August 15, 2001, the trial court denied defendant's motion to declare section 110-4(b) unconstitutional. On September 10, 2001, the trial court denied defendant's motion for pretrial bail, finding that he did not meet his burden under section 110-4(b) to demonstrate that the proof of his guilt was not evident and the presumption of his guilt was not great.

Defendant appealed denial of bail by filing a motion for review under Supreme Court Rule 604(c) (188 Ill. 2d R. 604(c)). The appellate court vacated the finding of the trial court and remanded, holding that section 110-4(b) is unconstitutional and that defendant's pretrial bail proceedings deprived defendant of his constitutional right to due process. The appellate court also held that the unconstitutionality of subsection (b) is not fatal to the remainder of section 110-4. The State has appealed the judgment of the appellate court.

ANALYSIS

We are asked to determine whether section 110-4(b) of the Code (725 ILCS 5/110-4(b) (West 2000)) violates constitutional guarantees of due process. We review de novo a circuit court's holding with respect to the constitutionality of a statute. People v. Conlan, 189 Ill. 2d 286, 291 (2000); Russell v. Department of Natural Resources, 183 Ill. 2d 434, 441 (1998). Statutes enjoy a presumption of constitutionality. Conlan, 189 Ill. 2d at 291. The party challenging the validity of a statute bears the burden of clearly establishing the alleged constitutional violation. People v. Williams, 143 Ill. 2d 477, 481 (1991). While this presumption certainly does not mean that statutes are unassailable, neither should courts lightly or cavalierly declare unconstitutional that which the representatives of the people have seen fit to enact. Conlan, 189 Ill. 2d at 291-92. It is our duty to strike down legislation that plainly violates the constitution. Williams, 143 Ill. 2d at 481, quoting People v. Lindner, 127 Ill. 2d 174, 184 (1989). This is especially true when the legislation affects an individual's liberty or constitutional due process rights. The due process clause provides heightened protection against government interference with certain fundamental rights and liberty interests. U.S. Const., amend. XIV; Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §2; In re M.H., 196 Ill. 2d 356, 362 (2001), quoting Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702, 719-20, 138 L. Ed. 2d 772, 787, 117 S. Ct. 2258, 2267 (1997). Although the legislature has wide discretion in prescribing penalties for defined criminal offenses, this discretion is limited by the constitutional guarantee that a person may not be deprived of liberty without due process of law. People v. Reed, 148 Ill. 2d 1, 11 (1992). Although our inquiry in this case involves matters of criminal procedure rather than criminal penalties, the importance of protecting constitutional due process rights is not diminished.

Denial of Pretrial Bail Under the Illinois Constitution

A defendant may be denied bail in certain instances enumerated in the Illinois Constitution and by statute. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §9; 725 ILCS 5/110-4(a), (b) (West 2000); People v. Bailey, 167 Ill. 2d 210 (1995); People ex rel. Hemingway v. Elrod, 60 Ill. 2d 74 (1975). The constitution states expressly that bail may be denied if the accused is charged with a capital offense or an offense for which a sentence of life imprisonment may be imposed and where the proof is evident or the presumption great. Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, §9. However, article I, section 9, does not indicate expressly how the trial court in a bail proceeding in a capital case is to determine whether the proof is evident or the presumption great. Section 110-4 is a codification of article I, section 9, and provides courts with additional guidance for the execution of bail proceedings. Section 110-4 provides, in part:

"(a) All persons shall be bailable before conviction, except the following offenses where the proof is evident or the presumption great that the defendant is guilty of the offense: capital offenses; offenses for which a sentence of life ...


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