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People v. Einoder

April 01, 2004

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,
v.
JOHN T. EINODER ET AL., APPELLEES.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kilbride

PUBLISHED

Docket Nos. 95942, 95943, 95944 cons.-Agenda 6-January 2004.

Defendants, John T. Einoder, Tri-State Industries, Inc., and J.T. Einoder, Inc., were charged, in three separate indictments, for criminal disposal of waste under section 44(p)(1)(A) of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act (Act) (415 ILCS 5/44(p)(1)(A) (West 2000)). The circuit court of Cook County granted defendants' motion to dismiss each of the indictments, finding that section 44(p)(1)(A) is unconstitutionally vague. This is a direct appeal by the State in each case pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(a) (134 Ill. 2d R. 302(a)). The cases have been consolidated on appeal. We reverse and remand.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 19, 2002, defendants were charged in three separate indictments for the offense of criminal disposal of waste under section 44(p)(1)(A) of the Act (415 ILCS 5/44(p)(1)(A) (West 2000)). The indictments alleged that defendants committed criminal disposal of waste by knowingly conducting a waste-disposal operation and accepting for disposal more than 250 cubic feet of concrete containing protruding rebar, construction debris, demolition debris, and general refuse, without a permit as required by section 21(d) of the Act (415 ILCS 5/21(d) (West 2000)).

On May 30, 2002, the State filed a motion to expand defendant John Einoder's conditions of bond to comply with the Act. In its motion to expand the conditions of bond, the State alleged that the "general construction or demolition debris" brought to the site by defendant John Einoder is not managed in accordance with section 22.38(b) of the Act, governing "facilit[ies] accepting exclusively general construction or demolition debris for transfer, storage, or treatment." 415 ILCS 5/22.38(b) (West 2000). The State therefore alleged that defendant John Einoder is subject to the requirements of section 21(d) of the Act and is required to obtain an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency permit to conduct such activity.

In its motion to expand defendant John Einoder's conditions of bond, the State further alleged that he has allowed "clean construction or demolition debris" to be deposited on the site, above grade, and otherwise not managed in accordance with the provisions of section 3.78a of the Act, without a permit.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the indictments arguing, inter alia, that the statute is unconstitutionally vague because the term "grade" is not defined in the Act. Defendants also argued that the term "waste" fails to define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what is prohibited conduct.

The trial court granted defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that the statute is unconstitutionally vague on its face. The trial court reasoned:

"As the Defendants correctly note in their motion to Dismiss, the term `grade' is not defined in the Act. `Grade' in its ordinary meaning has multiple meanings and can mean (1) the degree of rise or descent of a sloping surface, as a highway, railroad, etc.; such as a sloping part; (2) the ground level around a building; (3) to make (ground) level or slope (ground) evenly for a roadway, etc.; (4) to change gradually; go through a series of stages-at grade, on the same level or degree of rise. See Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition, `Grade.' "

Thus, the trial court determined that "[b]ecause the statute fails to provide any reference points to assist in interpreting how grade should be measured, this court interprets the term grade as an ambiguous or vague term."

The trial court further reasoned that:

"The term `waste' also fails to define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Therefore, the statute fails to define the criminal offense with sufficient definiteness that ordinary people can understand what conduct is prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement."

The trial court concluded that:

"Defendants have shown the statute to be vague in the sense that no standard of conduct is specified at all, based on the terms `waste' and `grade.' Further, this court concludes that because Section 5/44(p)(1)(A) is a penal statute, it fails to adequately define the criminal offense in such a manner that does not encourage arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement. Therefore, based on these findings, this court grants the Defendants [sic] motion to dismiss and finds the section of the Act is unconstitutionally vague."

The State appealed each case directly to this court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(a) (134 Ill. 2d R. 302(a)). The cases ...


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