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The People of the State of Illinois v. Michael Miller

December 10, 2012

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLEE,
v.
MICHAEL MILLER,
DEFENDANT-APPELLANT.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 98-CF-1814 Honorable James Hackett, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Wexstten

NOTICE

The text of this decision may be changed or corrected prior to the filing of a Petition for Rehearing or the disposition of the same.

JUSTICE WEXSTTEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Welch and Chapman concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 In April 2011, the defendant filed a pro se petition for relief from judgment pursuant to section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1401 (West 2010)). Eleven days later, the trial court dismissed the petition sua sponte. On appeal, the defendant argues that we should vacate the trial court's judgment and remand for further proceedings. For the reasons that follow, we agree.

¶ 2 BACKGROUND

¶ 3 In May 1999, a Madison County jury found the defendant, Michael Miller, guilty of attempted first-degree murder (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a), 9-1(a)(1) (West 1998)). At trial, the State's evidence established that in August 1998, the defendant savagely attacked Lavita Butkus with a knife and a tire tool and that as a result, she required extensive hospitalization and spent 21 days in a coma.

¶ 4 In July 1999, the trial court sentenced the defendant to serve a 45-year term of imprisonment. In July 2003, the defendant's conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal. People v. Miller, No. 5-99-0651 (2003) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).

¶ 5 From March 2001 to January 2010, the defendant filed numerous pro se pleadings challenging his conviction and sentence, none of which proved successful. The defendant's pleadings included multiple motions and petitions filed pursuant to the Post-Conviction Hearing Act (725 ILCS 5/122-1 to 122-8 (West 2002, 2004, 2008)) and a petition for relief from judgment pursuant to section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1401 (West 2004)).

¶ 6 On April 1, 2011, the defendant filed a second petition for relief from judgment pursuant to section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1401 (West 2010)). Notably, the record indicates that the defendant failed to give the State proper notice of the petition as required by section 2-1401(b). See Padilla v. Vazquez, 223 Ill. App. 3d 1018, 1024 (1991) (pursuant to section 2-1401(b), "[a] party seeking relief under section 2-1401 must give notice to opposing parties according to Supreme Court Rules 105 and 106").

¶ 7 On April 12, 2011, the trial court entered an order sua sponte dismissing the defendant's petition as untimely filed and failing to state a cognizable claim. Thereafter, the defendant filed a timely notice of appeal.

¶ 8 DISCUSSION

ΒΆ 9 "Section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure *** provides a comprehensive statutory procedure by which final orders and judgments may be challenged more than 30 days after their entry." People v. Pinkonsly, 207 Ill. 2d 555, 562 (2003). "Although a section 2-1401 petition is usually characterized as a civil remedy, its ...


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