Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

People ex rel. Madigan v. Snyder

January 23, 2004

[5] THE PEOPLE EX REL. LISA MADIGAN, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF ILLINOIS, ET AL., PETITIONERS,
v.
DONALD N. SNYDER, JR., DIRECTOR OF CORRECTIONS, ET AL., RESPONDENTS.



[6] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Thomas

[7]  Docket No. 95663-Agenda 19-September 2003.

[8]  This case comes before the court as an original action for a writ of mandamus. 188 Ill. 2d R. 381. The Illinois Attorney General filed the complaint on behalf of the people of the state of Illinois. The complaint seeks a writ of mandamus ordering the Director of Corrections and the wardens of Pontiac and Menard Correctional Centers to prevent the recording of certain commutation orders entered by former Governor George H. Ryan or, in the alternative, to expunge the commutation orders where they have already been entered.

[9]  BACKGROUND

[10]   Petitioners' complaint contains the following allegations. On January 10, 2003, then-Governor George H. Ryan announced that he was granting "blanket clemency" for all inmates who were then, or who had been, sentenced to death. He issued orders commuting the sentences of more than 160 inmates to life imprisonment, a maximum of life imprisonment, or 40 years. Petitioners challenge the validity of the commutations with respect to two distinct groups of inmates.

[11]   In count I of the complaint, petitioners allege that the Governor lacked the authority to commute the sentences of inmates who failed to sign or otherwise consent to their clemency petitions. Article V, section 12, of the Illinois Constitution of 1970 provides that:

[12]   "The Governor may grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses on such terms as he thinks proper. The manner of applying therefore [sic] may be regulated by law."

[13]   Pursuant to this section, the General Assembly has exercised its authority to regulate the process of application for clemency in section 3-3-13 of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/3-3-13 (West 2002)). That section provides that petitions seeking clemency "shall be in writing and signed by the person under conviction or by a person on his behalf." 730 ILCS 5/3-3-13(a) (West 2002). A clemency application cannot be commenced on behalf of a person who has been sentenced to death, unless that person has consented. 730 ILCS 5/3-3-13(c) (West 2002). The complaint listed in an appendix a group of inmates who had not authorized the filing of clemency petitions on their behalf. The statute makes an exception for inmates who are mentally or physically incapable of deciding whether to seek clemency (730 ILCS 5/3-3-13(c) (West 2002)), but none of the inmates listed in the appendix had claimed such an infirmity.

[14]   Count I alleged that the legislature had regulated the procedure for applying for executive clemency and that the section imposed a clear legal duty on the Governor not to grant a commutation to any inmate who fails to sign or consent to a commutation petition and who is not otherwise excused from doing so. Accordingly, petitioners allege that the orders granting commutations to these inmates are void.

[15]   The next three counts of the complaint deal with inmates who were allegedly not under sentence when then-Governor Ryan issued the commutations. In count II, petitioners argue that the Governor lacked the authority to issue commutations to inmates not under sentence. These inmates had been under a sentence of death at one time, but their sentences had been reversed in either direct appeals or in post-conviction proceedings and they were awaiting new sentencing hearings. The complaint alleged that then-Governor Ryan had exceeded his authority in issuing a preemptive grant of commutation and had encroached on the judiciary's sentencing powers. Accordingly, petitioner argued that these commutations were void.

[16]   In count III, petitioners argue that the Governor cannot commute sentences to unspecified terms. For most of the inmates referenced in count II of the complaint, the Governor used one of the following two forms of commutation orders:

[17]   "Sentence Commuted to Natural Life Imprisonment Without the Possibility of Parole or Mandatory Supervised Relief [sic]; or in the alternative, Sentence Commuted to a Sentence Other Than Death for the Crime of Murder, So that the Maximum Sentence that may be Imposed is Natural Life Imprisonment Without the Possibility of Parole or Mandatory Supervised Relief [sic]."

[18]   "Sentence Commuted to a Sentence Other Than Death for the Crime of Murder, So that the Maximum Sentence that may be Imposed is Natural Life Imprisonment Without the Possibility of Parole or Mandatory Supervised Relief [sic]."

[19]   Petitioners argue that these are void orders because the Governor cannot commute sentences to unspecified terms.

[20]   Count IV alleges that the Governor may not delegate his commutation power. According to the complaint, then-Governor Ryan improperly delegated his commutation powers to the judiciary by commuting sentences of the inmates listed in count II to unspecified terms.

[21]   ANALYSIS

[22]   Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy traditionally used to compel a public official to perform a ministerial duty. People ex rel. Ryan v. Roe, 201 Ill. 2d 552, 555 (2002). Generally, a writ of mandamus will be awarded only if a plaintiff establishes a clear right to relief, a clear duty of the public official to act, and a clear authority in the public official to comply with the writ. People ex rel. Waller v. McKoski, 195 Ill. 2d 393, 398 (2001). There must also be no other adequate remedy. Patzner v. Baise, 133 Ill. 2d 540, 545 (1990). However, even when all of the normal requirements for the writ's award are not met initially, we may still consider a petition for a writ of mandamus if it presents a novel issue that is of crucial importance to the administration of justice. People v. Latona, 184 Ill. 2d 260, 277 (1998). If, in purporting to exercise his pardon or commutation power, the Governor issues a void order, mandamus may be used to require the officers charged with execution of the order to disregard it. People ex rel. Smith v. Jenkins, 325 Ill. 372, 374-75 (1927); People ex rel. Fullenwider v. Jenkins, 322 Ill. 33 (1926).

[23]   I. Inmates Who Did Not Sign or Otherwise Consent to Their Petitions

[24]   We first consider petitioners' argument that former Governor Ryan lacked the authority to commute the sentences of inmates who did not sign or otherwise consent to the filing of petitions on their behalf. For each of the inmates listed in the appendix to count I, a petition for executive clemency was filed with former Governor Ryan. However, these inmates had not signed consent forms allowing these petitions to be filed on their behalf.

[25]   Petitioners' argument is straightforward. The Illinois Constitution gives the Governor the authority to "grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, after conviction, for all offenses on such terms as he thinks proper." Ill. Const. 1970, art. 5, §12. However, the constitution further provides that, "[t]he manner of applying therefore [sic] may be regulated by law." Ill. Const. 1970, art. V, §12. Pursuant to this section, the General Assembly has exercised its authority to regulate the process of application for clemency in section 3-3-13 of the Unified Code of Corrections (730 ILCS 5/3-3-13 (West 2002)). That section provides that petitions seeking clemency ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.