The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Garman
Docket No. 92482-Agenda 15-September 2002.
Following a jury trial, defendant, Monica Glisson, was convicted of chemical breakdown of illicit controlled substance pursuant to section 401.5(a-5) of the Illinois Controlled Substances Act (720 ILCS 570/401.5(a-5) (West 1998)) and misdemeanor theft; judgment was entered November 3, 1999. Effective January 1, 2000, the General Assembly added a subsection to the Illinois Controlled Substances Act exempting defendant's conduct from criminal liability. 720 ILCS 570/401.5(c) (West 2000). Both parties agree that this amendment, in effect, repealed the crime of possession with the intent to manufacture the illicit controlled substance methamphetamine from the section on chemical breakdown of illicit controlled substance. The appellate court vacated defendant's conviction for chemical breakdown of illicit controlled substance and reversed defendant's conviction for misdemeanor theft. 324 Ill. App. 3d 249, 253-54. Before this court, the State challenges only the vacatur of the conviction for chemical breakdown of illicit controlled substance. More specifically, the issue presented for review by this court is whether the general savings clause of section 4 of the Statute on Statutes (5 ILCS 70/4 (West 2000)) applies to repeals.
Shortly after midnight on March 10, 1999, Massac County sheriff's deputy Kent Miles, while on routine patrol on Highway 45, observed a vehicle stopped on the road. The vehicle was about three hundred yards from the Fruitbelt Services Company, which housed tanks of anhydrous ammonia. Miles watched a person close the trunk and enter the passenger side of the vehicle. He followed the vehicle after it pulled out and drove down Highway 45. After checking the vehicle's plates, Miles initiated a traffic stop for illegally stopping on the highway. He detected the faint odor of anhydrous ammonia during the traffic stop. Miles spoke with defendant, who was driving, and the passenger, Joseph Draffen. He checked defendant's license and insurance information and ran Draffen's name through his computer. Miles called for backup, and Deputy Richard Douglas arrived shortly thereafter.
As defendant explained the reason she had been stopped on the highway, Douglas noticed a key in the keyhole of the trunk. After defendant refused permission to search the car, Douglas touched the key and the trunk automatically opened. The officers had been trained that if anhydrous ammonia is in an enclosed space, the area should be ventilated as much as possible given the volatility of the material. The smell of anhydrous ammonia became much stronger when the trunk was opened. The State Police Drug Task Force was called to assist in the handling of the anhydrous ammonia, and Officers Dean Hamilton and Rick Griffey were dispatched. Inside the trunk was a five-gallon bucket sealed with duct tape. The officers also found a cooler containing anhydrous ammonia, a respirator mask, and a piece of wood wrapped with duct tape inside the trunk. Hamilton disposed of the anhydrous ammonia.
At trial, Douglas testified on the basis of his training that anhydrous ammonia is one of the antecedents in the production of methamphetamine. The only legitimate use of anhydrous ammonia is to fertilize corn; for this purpose, large quantities are required. The jury returned a guilty verdict on both counts. While the case was pending on direct appeal, the General Assembly adopted section 401.5(c), which removed from sanction the possession of methamphetamine manufacturing chemicals with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine. 720 ILCS 570/401.5(c) (West 2000). The appellate court vacated defendant's conviction for chemical breakdown of illicit controlled substance (720 ILCS 570/401.5(a-5) (West 1998)) because the statute defining the offense of which defendant was convicted had been repealed. 324 Ill. App. 3d at 253. We granted leave to appeal pursuant to Rule 315 (177 Ill. 2d R. 315).
Effective after the date of the relevant conduct and defendant's conviction, the General Assembly passed section 401.5(c), which provides: "This Section does not apply to the possession of any methamphetamine manufacturing chemicals with the intent to manufacture methamphetamine or any salt of an optical isomer of methamphetamine, or an analog of methamphetamine." 720 ILCS 570/401.5(c) (West 2000). This change repealed the crime of which defendant was convicted. No specific savings clause was passed with section 401.5(c). Therefore, the sole issue before this court is whether the general savings clause of section 4 (5 ILCS 70/4 (West 2000)) preserves the conviction for chemical breakdown of illicit controlled substance despite the subsequent repeal of the statutory prohibition of the conduct in question while defendant's conviction was pending on direct appeal. Because this issue is one of statutory interpretation, this court reviews the question de novo. Paris v. Feder, 179 Ill. 2d 173, 177-78 (1997).
At common law, the repeal of a penal statute abated prosecutions that had not reached final judgment, unless other authority supported the continuation of pending prosecutions. United States v. Chambers, 291 U.S. 217, 223, 78 L. Ed. 763, 765-66, 54 S. Ct. 434, 435 (1934); People v. Bilderback, 9 Ill. 2d 175, 177 (1956). The common law doctrine established a presumption of abatement for non-final prosecutions for courts to apply where the legislature was silent. Hamm v. City of Rock Hill, 379 U.S. 306, 322, 13 L. Ed. 2d 300, 311, 85 S. Ct. 384, 394-95 (1964) (Harlan, J., dissenting).
Dissatisfaction with the common law rule developed because the conviction and punishment of similarly situated defendants could be disparate solely because the proceedings of one had moved more quickly and had become final before the change in the law. Bilderback, 9 Ill. 2d at 181. This problem was addressed through the passage of general savings clause legislation, section 4, which reversed the common law presumption. People v. Chupich, 53 Ill. 2d 572, 583 (1973); Bilderback, 9 Ill. 2d at 181. The Illinois courts rarely have interpreted section 4 as it relates to repeal of criminal statutes because the General Assembly infrequently decriminalizes behavior.
A. Statutory Construction of Section 4
The primary concern of the court when interpreting a statute is to give effect to the intent of the legislature. Paris, 179 Ill. 2d at 177. Whenever possible, the court applies the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language. People ex rel. Devine v. $30,700.00 United States Currency, 199 Ill. 2d 142, 150 (2002). Only where the language of the statute is ambiguous may the court resort to other aids of statutory construction. People v. O'Brien, 197 Ill. 2d 88, 90-91 (2001). In addition, where a statute is clear and unambiguous, courts cannot read into the statute limitations, exceptions, or other conditions not expressed by the legislature. People ex rel. Devine, 199 Ill. 2d at 150-51. The court should evaluate a statutory provision as a whole rather than reading phrases in isolation. Paris, 179 Ill. 2d at 177. The court should construe a statute to give a reasonable meaning to all words and sentences so that no part is rendered superfluous. Sylvester v. Industrial Comm'n, 197 Ill. 2d 225, 232 (2001). Finally, courts may assume that the legislature did not intend absurdity, inconvenience or injustice to result from legislation. Burger v. Lutheran General Hospital, 198 Ill. 2d 21, 40 (2001).
Section 4, the general savings clause of Illinois, first passed in 1874, states:
"No new law shall be construed to repeal a former law, whether such former law is expressly repealed or not, as to any offense committed against the former law, or as to any act done, any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred, or any right accrued, or claim arising under the former law, or in any way whatever to affect any such offense or act so committed or done, or any penalty, forfeiture or punishment so incurred, or any right accrued, or claim arising before the new law takes effect, save only that the proceedings thereafter shall conform, so far as practicable, to the laws in force at the time of such proceeding. If any penalty, forfeiture or punishment be mitigated by any provisions of a new law, such provision may, by the consent of the party affected, be applied to any judgment pronounced after the new law takes effect. This section ...