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Williams v. Staples

February 13, 2003


Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. HC 50227 Honorable William S. Wood, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Greiman


Plaintiff Paul Williams, a person found not guilty of by reason of insanity of first degree murder, filed a petition in the trial court for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to section 10-124 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/10-124 (West 2000)). In that petition, plaintiff alleged that his confinement in the custody of the Department of Human Services was rendered unlawful by the expiration of his maximum period of confinement under section 5-2-4(b) of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code) (730 ILCS 5/5-2-4(b) (West 2000)). The trial court denied plaintiff's petition, and he now appeals. For the reasons that follow, we reverse and remand.

On December 19, 1982, the trial court, the Honorable Fred G. Suria, found plaintiff not guilty by reason of insanity (NGRI) on the charge of first degree murder and admitted him, involuntarily, to the custody of the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, now the Department of Human Services (DHS). Thereafter, plaintiff was confined at the Elgin Mental Health Center, an inpatient psychiatric facility operated by the DHS.

On December 8, 2000, the trial court, once again the Honorable Fred G. Suria, issued an order granting the plaintiff conditional release for a period of five years under Code section 5-2-4(d)(2) (730 ILCS 5/5- 2-4(d)(2) (West 2000)). The court also set September 26, 2001, as the last day for plaintiff's maximum period of confinement under Code section 5-2-4(b). Sometime after September 26, 2001, plaintiff allegedly violated the terms of his conditional release agreement by preliminarily testing positive for cocaine. Accordingly, the State filed a petition to revoke plaintiff's conditional release.

On November 28, 2001, plaintiff specially appeared to challenge the trial court's continued jurisdiction past the expiration of his maximum period of confinement, i.e., September 26, 2001, and moved to dismiss the State's petition to revoke his conditional release. The trial court denied the plaintiff's motion and remanded him to the custody of the DHS. Plaintiff claims that his return to custody was for an evaluation as to whether he should be subject to involuntary admission.

On December 21, 2001, plaintiff filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, again challenging his confinement past the expiration of the maximum period of confinement under Code section 5-2-4(b). On December 28, 2001 the trial court, the Honorable William S. Wood, heard arguments regarding plaintiff's petition for a writ of habeas corpus. No evidence was produced at the hearing, and neither party asked the court to take judicial notice of any other orders. In addition to the facts that plaintiff alleged in his petition, he also revealed that Judge Suria issued a contempt citation and a $100,000 warrant for plaintiff's arrest following his testing positive for cocaine. According to the plaintiff's representations at the hearing, he was arrested four days later. The defendant, Nancy Staples, the director of the Elgin facility, responded that Judge Suria had held a hearing regarding plaintiff's conditional release and that the State had argued in favor of the trial court's continuing jurisdiction. The defendant also noted that after the hearing regarding the court's jurisdiction over plaintiff's conditional release violation, Judge Suria held that he had jurisdiction and ordered that the DHS evaluate the plaintiff. Finally, the State noted that plaintiff's contempt citation was still pending. The trial court then denied plaintiff's petition for a writ of habeas corpus.

The issues in the instant case involve only questions of law and statutory interpretation; therefore, the standard of review is de novo. People v. Hall, 195 Ill. 2d 1, 21 (2000).

Plaintiff's only argument on appeal is identical to that which he made twice before the trial court in his special appearance and in his petition for a writ of habeas corpus; namely, that he is being unlawfully confined past the expiration of his maximum period of confinement under Code section 5-2-4(b). By way of background, proceedings after acquittal by reason of insanity are governed by Code section 5-2-4, which provides, in pertinent part, that if a NGRI acquittee is to be involuntarily committed to the DHS, that confinement:

"[S]hall not exceed the maximum length of time that the defendant would have been required to serve, less credit for good behavior, before becoming eligible for release had he been convicted of and received the maximum sentence for the most serious crime for which he has been acquitted by reason of insanity. The Court shall determine the maximum period of commitment by an appropriate order." 730 ILCS 5/5-2-4(b) (West 2000).

The end of this period is known as the "Thiem" date. See People v. Cross, 274 Ill. App. 3d 159, 161 (1995); People v. Thiem, 82 Ill. App. 3d 956, 962 (1980) (holding that "the trial court should determine and fix a definite maximum period of commitment"). According to the supreme court, "[t]he maximum thus determined will represent the outer limit of the defendant's possible commitment. The defendant cannot be held beyond that maximum." People v. Tanzy, 99 Ill. 2d 19, 21 (1983).

Consequently, when institutionalized NGRI acquittees reach their Thiem date, the DHS either releases them or recommits them as civil patients, voluntarily or involuntarily depending on the circumstances. See Lucas v. Peters, 318 Ill. App. 3d 1, 5 (2000). In turn, the decision of whether NGRI acquittees are to be released or recommitted arises from a court's weighing of his or her liberty interest in not being institutionalized indeterminably *fn1 against the State's interest in protecting society from the premature release of mentally ill persons. See People v. Jurisec, 199 Ill. 2d 108, 129 (2002); People v. Palmer, 148 Ill. 2d 70, 94 (1992); People v. Winston, 191 Ill. App. 3d 948, 959 (1989).

Regardless of how a trial court wishes to proceed, however, Illinois courts consistently have held that the NGRI acquittees' Thiem date is the outside limit for their period of confinement in the criminal or "forensic" *fn2 context. For example, in People v. Leppert, 105 Ill. App. 3d 514 (1982), this court held that "[t]he statute provides a clear formula for commitment: the time shall be indefinite, and the maximum is set by operation of law. * * * The court may not state a maximum length of commitment any different than that provided by statute." Leppert, 105 Ill. App. 3d at 519-20. Such language indicates that a court's duty in that regard is ministerial rather than discretionary. See also People v. Pastewski, 164 Ill. 2d 189, 201 (1995) ("Given the rationale for the statute, it would be odd to place in the trial judge discretion to select, as a maximum period of commitment, a time other than the longest span provided by statute").

Moreover, we have found reversible error where the trial court extended an NGRI acquittee's period of confinement for an additional 15 months beyond the maximum provided by Code section 5-4-2(b) because he was involved in several altercations during his confinement. In In re Commitment of Guy, 126 Ill. App. 3d 267 (1984), this court held that an NGRI acquittee's conduct during commitment was irrelevant to the determination of the maximum confinement period "because the maximum length of the commitment period must be set before the period has even begun." Guy, 126 Ill. App. 3d at 269-70. Specifically, the Guy court found that the trial court erred in using the petitioner's later conduct as a basis for revoking good-time credits that were factored into a previously correct calculation of his Thiem date. Guy, 126 Ill. App. 3d at 270. Ultimately, the court found that because that revocation unlawfully extended his Thiem date, his petition for a writ of habeas corpus should have been granted because it was filed after his correctly calculated Thiem date. Guy, 126 Ill. App. 3d at 270-71.

In the present case, the defendant apparently concedes that plaintiff's release date of September 26, 2001, was correctly calculated. However, plaintiff notes, the court continued to confine him past that date. Under Guy, plaintiff claims that neither his conditional release period nor his alleged violation of that conditional release may extend his statutory maximum period of commitment. Accordingly, where the laws of habeas corpus provide that a person may be discharged from the custody of the court "[w]here the court has exceeded the limit of its jurisdiction, either as to the matter, place, sum or person" (735 ILCS 5/10-124 (West 2000)), and where plaintiff filed his petition of a writ of habeas corpus on December 21, 2001, nearly two months after the expiration of his Thiem date, plaintiff argues that we should reverse the trial court and find that he is entitled to his immediate release.

The defendant first responds that the plaintiff violated Supreme Court Rule 321 (155 Ill. 2d R. 321) by not including Judge Suria's November 28, 2001, order which confined the plaintiff to the DHS for an evaluation. *fn3 Supreme Court Rule 321 provides:

"The record on appeal shall consist of the judgment appealed from, the notice of appeal, and the entire original common law record, unless the parties stipulate for, or the trial court, after notice and hearing, or the reviewing court, orders less. The common law record includes every document filed and judgment and order entered in the cause and any documentary exhibits offered and filed by any party. Upon motion the reviewing court may order that other exhibits be included in the record. The record on appeal shall also include any report of proceedings prepared in accordance with Rule 323. There is no distinction between the common law record and the report of proceedings for the purpose of determining what is properly before the reviewing court." 155 Ill. 2d R.321.

Defendant notes that the failure to present an adequate record on appeal results in waiver of any issue for which the record is insufficient to support a claim of error. People v. Green, 288 Ill. App. 3d 402, 407 (1997).

For example, in Best Coin-Op, Inc. v. Fountains on Carriage Way Condominium Ass'n, 239 Ill. App. 3d 1062 (1992), the plaintiff appealed a trial court's ruling granting partial summary judgment to the defendant. Quoting Rule 321, we found that the record which the plaintiff filed was inadequate because it did not contain the trial court's order of summary judgment. Best Coin-Op, 239 Ill. App. 3d at 1063. Instead, the plaintiff included the trial court's subsequent order denying the ...

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