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People ex rel Director of Corrections v. Edwards

June 22, 2004


[6] Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. No. 01-L-88. Honorable James M. Wexstten, Judge, presiding.

[7] The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Kuehn

[8]  Rule 23 order filed May 10, 2004

[9]  The Illinois Department of Corrections (the Department) sued the defendant, Wayne Edwards, an inmate who was then incarcerated at Big Muddy Correctional Center, to recover costs incurred during the inmate's incarceration. The defendant appeals the circuit court's decision allowing the Department to attach $4,000 of a bank account in his name. We affirm.


[11]   The defendant, who organized and supervised the wholesale and street-level retail distribution of heroin for the Chicago Black Souls street gang, was convicted of criminal drug conspiracy, and on January 9, 1998, he was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison and fined $150,000. See People v. Edwards, 337 Ill. App. 3d 912, 788 N.E.2d 35 (2002). Although the defendant filed multiple pleadings in the instant case, only those pleadings or responses of either party that are essential to this appeal will be discussed.

[12]   On December 20, 2001, the Department filed a complaint to recover costs it had incurred during the defendant's incarceration, pursuant to section 3-7-6 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Unified Code) (730 ILCS 5/3-7-6 (West 2000)). The Department calculated the total cost of the defendant's incarceration at $61,844.31. The Department attached a statement to the complaint documenting the cost of incarcerating the defendant from January 23, 1998, through November 13, 2001. It also attached the verification of Jack Huffman, the supervisor of the accounting section of the Department, his letter of certification, and an affidavit certifying that the cause of action sought money damages in excess of $50,000.

[13]   On January 7, 2002, the Department moved for an order of attachment, asserting that the defendant had attachable property in two accounts-his inmate trust account with the Department and a bank account with the Du Quoin State Bank (the Bank) in Du Quoin, Illinois-and that under section 4-107 of the Code of Civil Procedure (the Code) (735 ILCS 5/4-107 (West 2002)), no plaintiff's bond was necessary because the Department, a State agency, was the plaintiff. The affidavit of Jack Huffman, filed pursuant to section 4-104 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/4-104 (West 2002)), in which he verified the amount owed by the defendant for the costs of his incarceration, was appended to the pleading.

[14]   On January 7, 2002, the trial court entered the order for attachment, returnable on or before January 31, 2002, and the order issued on the same date, as did notice and interrogatories to the garnishees, the Department and the Bank. The garnishees were notified that they were to "hold any property, effects, choses in action[,] or credits in their possession or power belonging to the defendant" and not to pay them over to the defendant because of the plaintiff's pending lien. Nonwage garnishment summonses were served on the Bank on January 9, 2002, and on the Department and the defendant on January 10, 2002. On January 14, 2002, the Bank informed the court that the defendant's account had a balance of $6,041.90. The Department filed its interrogatory answers on January 31, 2002, indicating that the defendant's trust fund balance was $98.01, the defendant having "spent down" his trust account from a total of $1,171.65 to less than $100 between November 27, 2001, less than a month before the Department filed its complaint, and January 29, 2002. On January 31, 2002, the trial court ordered the Bank to freeze the defendant's savings account.

[15]   The defendant was served on February 1, 2002, with, inter alia, the garnishment summons, interrogatories, the answers to the interrogatories of the Bank and the Department, and the January 31, 2002, garnishment order. On February 11, 2002, the defendant filed a "response to the order of attachment" and a motion to dismiss the action against him. He contended, inter alia, that the complaint was defective because it was signed by an assistant Attorney General, rather than by the Attorney General of the State of Illinois, as required by section 3-7-6(d) of the Unified Code (730 ILCS 5/3-7-6(d) (West 2000)) governing reimbursement for the expenses of incarceration. He filed a second motion to dismiss the action on February 11, 2002, in which he asserted as one ground for dismissal that the order of attachment should be dismissed because it failed to identify the specific property to be attached.

[16]   On April 9, 2002, the parties appeared in court and oral argument was heard on the first and second motions to dismiss. The State also filed a written response to the defendant's first motion to dismiss. It argued that under the holding in Saxby v. Sonnemann, 318 Ill. 600, 607, 149 N.E. 526, 529 (1925), assistant Attorneys General were empowered to file and prosecute civil actions through their appointment by the Attorney General. No written response to the second motion to dismiss appears in the record on appeal. However, the docket sheet notes, which are a part of the common law record and are presumed to be correct (see People v. Lilly, 291 Ill. App. 3d 662, 665, 687 N.E.2d 1070, 1073 (1997) (citing People v. Brooks, 158 Ill. 2d 260, 274, 633 N.E.2d 692, 698 (1994))), indicate that arguments were heard on both of the defendant's February 11, 2002, motions to dismiss and his amendments to them. The defendant contended, inter alia, that the circuit court lacked jurisdiction over the complaint because the Bank "sent the Notice for Order of Attachment and Garnishment Summons [to the defendant]." The defendant's motions to dismiss, as amended, were denied. Two separate orders prepared by the Attorney General, in which the arguments of the State in opposition to the defendant's first and second motions to dismiss were set forth in brief form, are a part of the record and were signed by the trial court on April 9, 2002. The State did not oppose the defendant's oral motion to assert his right to exempt $2,000 from attachment.

[17]   The State moved for a summary judgment on June 10, 2002. It argued that neither the fact of the defendant's incarceration nor the cost of that incarceration was contested. The defendant's responsive motion was filed on June 17, 2002, and on June 24, 2002, the trial court granted a summary judgment for the State. It granted the defendant an exemption for $2,000 of the defendant's account and directed the Bank to surrender $4,000 of the defendant's savings account to the State to apply against the defendant's debt of $61,844.31. The defendant filed no further pleadings in the circuit court and proceeded with the instant appeal.


[19]   The defendant claims that the grant of a summary judgment for the State was erroneous. He contends that (1) the circuit court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the action because the proceedings did not comport strictly with statutory requirements, (2) he was entitled to the grant of his first motion to dismiss because only the Attorney General is empowered to file actions for the reimbursement of expenses pursuant to section 3-7-6 of the Unified Code, (3) he was entitled to the grant of his second motion to dismiss because the State did not file a written response to his assertion that the order for attachment failed to specify the property to be attached, and (4) the State denied him due process by failing to comply with the postjudgment garnishment statute, section 12-705 of the Code (735 ILCS 5/12-705 (West 2002)), when it did not mail him a copy of the garnishment notice and summons within two days of their service ...

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