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The People of the State of Illinois, Appellant v. Connie S. Blair

March 21, 2013

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT,
v.
CONNIE S. BLAIR, APPELLEE.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Theis

JUSTICE THEIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 At issue in this appeal is whether Public Act 95-688 (eff. Oct. 23,

2007), which amended the armed violence statute, revived the sentencing enhancement in the armed robbery statute that this court held unconstitutional in People v. Hauschild, 226 Ill. 2d 63 (2007).

¶ 2 For the reasons stated below, we hold that Public Act 95-688 revived the armed robbery sentencing enhancement. We therefore reverse the judgment of the appellate court (2012 IL App (3d) 100743-U), and affirm the judgment of the trial court which applied the enhancement to defendant's sentence.

¶ 3 BACKGROUND

¶ 4 Defendant Connie Blair was convicted by a Henry County jury of armed robbery while armed with a firearm (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(2) (West 2008)), in connection with an incident in April 2009. The trial court sentenced defendant to a term of 23 years' imprisonment which, over defendant's objection, included a 15-year enhancement pursuant to section 18-2(b) of the armed robbery statute. 720 ILCS 5/18-2(b) (West 2008). Defendant appealed.

¶ 5 The appellate court held that the trial court erred by applying the

15-year enhancement. 2012 IL App (3d) 100743-U, ¶ 1. The appellate court rejected the State's argument that Public Act 95-688 could revive the sentencing enhancement in the armed robbery statute by amending the armed violence statute. Id. ¶¶ 6-12 (discussing People v. Manuel, 94 Ill. 2d 242 (1983)). According to the appellate court, when Hauschild held the armed robbery sentencing enhancement in section 18-2(b) unconstitutional under the proportionate penalties clause, the enhancement was rendered void ab initio, and it "remains unavailable at sentencing until the legislature takes some action on section 18-2(b)." Id. ¶ 12. The appellate court reversed and remanded for resentencing in accordance with the armed robbery statute as it existed prior to the adoption of the sentencing enhancement. Id. ¶ 13. Under the appellate court judgment, on remand, defendant would be subject to a sentence of 6 to 30 years' imprisonment, rather than an enhanced sentence of 21 to 45 years' imprisonment. Compare 720 ILCS 5/18-2(b) (West 1998), and 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(3) (West 1998), with 720 ILCS 5/18-2(b) (West 2008).

¶ 6 We allowed the State's petition for leave to appeal. Ill. S. Ct. R. 315 (eff. Feb. 26, 2010).

¶ 7 ANALYSIS

¶ 8 I

¶ 9 Whether Public Act 95-688 revived the sentencing enhancement for armed robbery held unconstitutional in Hauschild presents an issue of law, which we review de novo. People v. Clemons, 2012 IL 107821, ¶ 8. An understanding of this issue, as well as the parties' arguments, requires that we first review our proportionate penalties jurisprudence as it relates to the two statutes at issue here-the armed robbery statute and the armed violence statute.

¶ 10 II

¶ 11 In People v. Lewis, 175 Ill. 2d 412 (1996), we considered whether the penalties for armed violence predicated on robbery committed with a category I weapon (a handgun) (720 ILCS 5/33A-1 (West 1994)) and armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2 (West 1994)) are proportionate penalties under our state constitution (Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 11). At that time, armed robbery, a Class X felony, was punishable by a term of imprisonment of 6 to 30 years. 720 ILCS 5/18-2(b) (West 1994); 730 ILCS 5/5-8-1(a)(3) (West 1994). Armed violence, predicated on robbery with a category I weapon, was also a Class X felony, but was punishable by a term of imprisonment of 15 to 30 years. 720 ILCS 5/33A-2, 33A-3 (West 1994). Applying the identical elements test for proportionality review, we held that the penalty for armed violence ...


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