Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Fifth Division
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 99 CR 21702. Honorable William H. Hooks, Judge Presiding.
For Plaintiff-Appellee: Anita Alvarez, Cook County State's Attorney, Chicago, IL; Alan J. Spellberg, Brian K. Hodes, Assistant State's Attorney, Of Counsel.
For Defendent-Appellant: Abishi C. Cunningham, Jr., Public Defender of Cook County (Barbara McClure, Assistant Public Defender, of Counsel).
JUSTICE McBRIDE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Reyes concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Gordon dissented, with opinion.
[¶1] Defendant Lloyd Saterfield appeals from the circuit court's dismissal of his pro se petition for postjudgment relief filed pursuant to section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure (the Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-1401 (West 2012)). On appeal, defendant contends, relying on People v. Laugharn, 233 Ill.2d 318, 909 N.E.2d 802, 330 Ill.Dec. 780 (2009), that the court's sua sponte dismissal of the petition was premature because the court entered it before the 30-day period for the State to respond had expired. We affirm.
[¶2] In July 2001, defendant entered into negotiated pleas of guilty to home invasion and felony murder predicated on home invasion. At the plea hearing, the prosecutor offered the following factual basis for defendant's plea.
[¶3] The prosecutor stated that the evidence would show that on August 25, 1999, defendant and his codefendants discussed a plan to murder Niquita Johnson, who was 33 years old at that time. The original plan was to use a firearm, but they were unable to obtain one. They planned to enter Johnson's bedroom while she was asleep with knives and a garden shovel. Defendant was the first one to enter the bedroom where Johnson was asleep on the bed with her 11-month-old baby. He began to stab her " about the head and neck with the garden shovel." One of the codefendants removed the baby from the bed. Two codefendants also began stabbing Johnson. Defendant then carried Johnson from the bed to the front room of the
apartment. When he heard her breathing, he stabbed her two more times with the garden shovel. Defendant and his codefendants cleaned the apartment and defendant changed his clothes. They carried Johnson's body outside, put it in the trunk of her car, and pushed the car down the street, and then defendant lit the car on fire.
[¶4] When defendant was arrested, he gave a videotaped confession outlining the planned murder of Johnson. The medical examiner would testify that he found over 30 stab wounds on Johnson's body, primarily to her neck, shoulders, and chest. The trial court found the factual basis sufficient to support the charges, accepted defendant's plea of guilty, and entered a finding of guilty. The trial court sentenced defendant to concurrent prison terms of 60 years for felony murder and 30 years for home invasion. Defendant then filed several unsuccessful collateral attacks upon his convictions. See, e.g., People v. Saterfield, No. 1-08-3096 (2010) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23).
[¶5] On March 18, 2013, defendant's pro se section 2-1401 petition was stamped " received," by the clerk's office, criminal division. The petition sought injunctive relief for a " void sentence" alleging that the truth-in-sentencing legislation was unconstitutional and that the calculation of his " credit" under this legislation violated his constitutional rights. The same petition was also stamped " filed" on April 8, 2013, by the clerk's office, criminal division, 26th and California. On April 15, 2013, at a proceeding in the criminal division, the petition was on the court's call and an assistant State's Attorney (ASA) asked the court for time to look at the petition, specifically to April 26th, and report back to the court.
[¶6] On April 26, 2013, the circuit court concluded that defendant's petition was frivolous and patently without merit and sua sponte dismissed the petition. The court found:
" [Defendant] was convicted of murder and is alleging that the Truth and Sentencing Statute is unconstitutional. The grounds that [defendant's] petition are frivolous and patently without merit. Numerous cases have held that the Truth and Sentencing is constitutional."
[¶7] The transcript of April 26, 2013, indicates that the same ASA was present and that an assistant public defender appeared on behalf of defendant. Neither attorney spoke on the record.
[¶8] On May 28, 2013, defendant filed a petition for rehearing and argued the merits of his petition and that the circuit court had prematurely dismissed his petition, citing People v. Laugharn, 233 Ill.2d 318, 909 N.E.2d 802, 330 Ill.Dec. 780 (2009). On June 4, 2013, the circuit court denied defendant's pro se petition for rehearing.
[¶9] Defendant's sole contention on appeal is that People v. Laugharn, 233 Ill.2d 318, 909 N.E.2d 802, 330 Ill.Dec. 780 (2009), prohibits the sua sponte dismissal of a section 2-1401 petition before the expiration of the 30-day period in which the State has time to answer. Defendant argues that because the instant petition was filed on April 8, 2013, and dismissed on April 26, 2013, the cause must be remanded to the circuit court. Defendant did not file a reply brief and made no
substantive arguments regarding his section 2-1401 petition in his opening brief.
[¶10] The State responds first by arguing that the petitioner has " waived" any issues regarding the merits of the petition because of his failure to present any argument on the issues in his brief on appeal. It further contends that the circuit court's dismissal of the petition was not premature because more than 30 days had passed by the time the court denied defendant's motion to reconsider. The State further argues that the petition was properly dismissed when an ASA was present in court and did not object to the dismissal. The State finally argues that remand is ...