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People v. Burdunice

May 29, 2003

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MELODY T. BURDUNICE, DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 21st Judicial Circuit, Kankakee County, Illinois No. 99-CF-788 Honorable Clark E. Erickson, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Schmidt

UNPUBLISHED

A jury found the defendant, Melody T. Burdunice, guilty of the unauthorized delivery of electronic contraband (cellular telephone batteries) into a penal institution by an employee (720 ILCS 5/31A-- 1.2(c)(1), (4)(xi) (West 1998)). She was sentenced to 11 years' imprisonment. On appeal, the defendant argues that the act under which she was convicted, Public Act 89--688 (Pub. Act 89--688, eff. June 1, 1997), violates the single subject rule of the Illinois Constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, §8(d)). She contends, therefore, that her conviction is void. The State submits that (1) Public Act 89--688 does not violate the single subject rule; and (2) public acts passed by the legislature subsequent to Public Act 89--688, but prior to the defendant's offense, superceded it or cured it of any single subject violations it might have. We rule that Public Act 89--688 violates the single subject rule and, therefore, reverse the defendant's conviction.

BACKGROUND

The defendant was a correctional officer for the Kankakee County sheriff's department. She was charged with delivering a handgun and cellular telephone batteries to an inmate at the Kankakee County Detention Center (jail) and aiding a second inmate's escape. She also was charged with official misconduct. The cellular telephone battery delivery offense was alleged to have occurred "on or between" November 1, 1999, and December 22, 1999.

The testimony at trial indicated that the defendant delivered cellular telephone batteries and a sealed package to an inmate in the jail. The defendant testified that she did not know what the package contained because it was sealed from the time she received it from a person outside the jail until she delivered it to the inmate. The package contained a handgun, which was used by another inmate in his escape. During the trial, a correctional officer testified that he was shot in the abdomen by the inmate during the escape.

The jury found the defendant not guilty of the other charges, but guilty of the cellular telephone battery delivery offense. She was sentenced and appealed.

ANALYSIS

I. Single Subject Rule

The defendant argues that the act under which she was convicted, Public Act 89--688 (Pub. Act 89--688, eff. June 1, 1997), violates the single subject rule.

The single subject rule requires that "[b]ills, except bills for appropriations and for the codification, revision or rearrangement of laws, shall be confined to one subject." Ill. Const. 1970, art. IV, §8(d). On the one hand, courts must liberally construe the term "subject" in favor of upholding the constitutionality of an act. On the other hand, the matters included in an act must have a natural and logical connection to a single subject. There is no additional requirement, however, that the individual provisions of an act be related to each other. A reviewing court must determine whether (1) the act facially involves a legitimate single subject; and (2) the various provisions within the act all relate to that subject. People v. Boclair, 202 Ill. 2d 89 (2002). Our review of the constitutionality of a statute is de novo. People v. Allen, 335 Ill. App. 3d 773, 780 N.E.2d 1133 (2002).

The public act at issue in this case, Public Act 89--688, is titled "AN ACT in relation to criminal law." It consists of five sections: 0.5, 1, 1.7, 2, and 5. The sections respectively amend the following acts: (1) the State Employee Indemnification Act (5 ILCS 350/0.01 et seq. (West 1996)); (2) the Criminal Code of 1961 (720 ILCS 5/1--1 et seq. (West 1996)); (3) the Statewide Grand Jury Act (725 ILCS 215/1 et seq. (West 1996)); (4) the Violent Crime Victims Assistance Act (725 ILCS 240/1 et seq. (West 1996)); and (5) the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/1--1--1 et seq. (West 1996)).

Previously, the Illinois Appellate Court, Fourth District, held that Public Act 89--688 violates the single subject rule. People v. Foster, 316 Ill. App. 3d 855, 737 N.E.2d 1125 (2000). The Foster court noted that the majority of Public Act 89--688 related to the single subject of criminal law. The court observed that section 0.5 of Public Act 89--688, however, concerns an amendment to the State Employee Indemnification Act (Act). That act requires the Attorney General to represent State employees, under certain circumstances, in civil actions. Section 0.5 of Public Act 89--688 amended the Act to allow the Attorney General to file counterclaims in such cases.

The Foster court stated that Public Act 89--688 violates the single subject rule no matter how liberally construed. The court reasoned that civil actions, and specifically counterclaims, bear no natural and logical relation to the criminal law. The court ruled, ...


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