from the Circuit Court of the 9th Judicial Circuit, Knox
County, Circuit No. 06-CF-519 Illinois, Honorable Scott
Shipplett, Judge, Presiding.
JUSTICE SCHMIDT delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justice Carter concurred in the judgment and
opinion. Justice Wright dissented, with opinion.
1 Defendant, Michael Walker, appeals from the dismissal of
his second-stage postconviction petition. Defendant's
sole argument on appeal is that his Violent Crime Victims
Assistance Fund fine (VCVA) and drug court fee were fines
improperly imposed by the circuit clerk and must be vacated.
We vacate, as void, the fines imposed by the circuit clerk.
3 In January 2008, defendant pled guilty to one count of
aggravated battery (720 ILCS 5/12-4(b)(6) (West 2006)). The
court sentenced defendant to four years' imprisonment and
ordered defendant to "pay court costs in this matter
which are due within six months of his release from
custody." The prison sentence was ordered to run
consecutive to the sentence defendant was serving at the time
he committed the instant offense.
4 On April 13, 2012, defendant filed a pro se
postconviction petition, arguing that he had been deprived of
his right to a speedy trial and defense counsel was
ineffective for failing to raise this issue. The court
summarily dismissed defendant's petition, and defendant
appealed. We reversed the dismissal and remanded the cause
for second-stage proceedings. People v. Walker, 2013
IL App (3d) 120330-U.
5 On remand, defense counsel filed an amended postconviction
petition, which realleged defendant's pro se
arguments. The State filed a motion to dismiss. In September
2014, the court dismissed defendant's amended petition,
and the clerk entered a written cost sheet into the record.
The cost sheet included the following assessments:
"Clerk Fee" $50, "State's Attorney"
$30, "Court Fund-County Fee" $50, "Court
Automation" $10, "Court Security" $25,
"Victim of Violent Crime" $20, "Document
Storage Fund" $10, "Arrestee's Medical
Fee" $10, "Teen Court" $5, "Drug Court
Fee" $5, and "Knox Cty Child Advocacy Center"
$5. Defendant appeals from the dismissal of his amended
postconviction petition, but defendant does not contest the
dismissal. Therefore, he has abandoned the arguments raised
in the petition.
7 Defendant solely argues that his VCVA and drug court fines
must be vacated as they were imposed without authority by the
circuit clerk. The State agrees that these assessments were
imposed without authority, but argues that the matter should
be remanded to the trial court with direction for the court
to specifically order these mandatory fines. Upon review, we
find the VCVA and drug court assessments are void.
Additionally, we sua sponte find that the circuit
clerk imposed several other fines without an order of the
court. These fines are void and vacated accordingly. We
further reject the State's argument for a remand as we do
not have authority to order the trial court to impose the
mandatory fines. See Ill. S.Ct. R. 615(b)(4); People v.
Castleberry, 2015 IL 116916, ¶ 19; People v.
Wade, 2016 IL App (3d) 150417, ¶ 13.
8 The imposition of a fine is a judicial act. People v.
Strong, 2016 IL App (3d) 140418, ¶ 8. "The
clerk of a court is a nonjudicial member of the court and, as
such, has no power to impose sentences or levy fines
***." People v. Scott, 152 Ill.App.3d 868, 873
(1987). A fine imposed without authority by the circuit clerk
is void from its inception. People v. Larue, 2014 IL
App (4th) 120595, ¶ 56. The circuit clerk may levy fees
against a defendant, but only the trial court may impose
fines. Wade, 2016 IL App (3d) 150417, ¶ 10.
9 Here, the parties agree that defendant's VCVA and drug
court fines are void as they are fines that were imposed
without authority by the circuit clerk. See People v.
Folks, 406 Ill.App.3d 300, 306 (2010) (holding drug
court assessment is a fine that cannot be imposed by the
circuit clerk); Scott, 152 Ill.App.3d at 873
(holding VCVA assessment is a mandatory fine that cannot be
imposed by the circuit clerk). We find that the record
establishes that the VCVA and drug court assessments were
imposed by the clerk after the court entered a generic order
for "costs." As a result, the VCVA and drug court
fines are void. See Larue, 2014 IL App (4th) 120595,
¶ 56. Accordingly, we vacate these two fines.
10 After reviewing the cost sheet, we find the circuit clerk
imposed several additional fees, which have been judicially
categorized as fines, without an order of the court. These
assessments, which are properly categorized as fines, are
void. See Id. We "have an independent duty to
vacate void orders and may sua sponte declare an
order void." People v. Thompson, 209 Ill.2d 19,
27 (2004). Therefore, we vacate the following additional
fines as void: "Court Fund County Fee" (People
v. Ackerman, 2014 IL App (3d) 120585, ¶ 30 (holding
the court systems fee of $50 (55 ILCS 5/5-1101(c)(1), (g)
(West 2008)) was a fine)), "Arrestee's Medical
Fee" (People v. Jernigan, 2014 IL App (4th)
130524, ¶ 38 (holding the $10 arrestee's medical
assessment is a fine)), "Teen Court" (People v.
Graves, 235 Ill.2d 244, 255 (2009) (holding the teen
court assessment is a fine)), and "Knox Cty Child
Advocacy Center" (People v. Jones, 397
Ill.App.3d 651, 660-61 (2009) (holding the Children's
Advocacy Center Fund assessment is a fine)).
11 Having vacated the improperly imposed fines, the State
argues that we must remand the cause for the trial court to
properly order any mandatory fines. See 725 ILCS 240/10(b)
(West 2008); 55 ILCS 5/5-1101(d-5) (West 2008). However, in
Castleberry, 2015 IL 116916, ¶ 19, our supreme
court abolished the void sentence rule. In doing so, the
supreme court noted that an "appellate court may not,
under our rules, address a request by the State to increase a
criminal sentence which is illegally low." Id.
¶ 26. Since a fine is part of a criminal sentence
(Graves, 235 Ill.2d at 250), Castleberry
bars remanding this case to the trial court with instructions
to impose the required fines. Castleberry, 2015 IL
116916, ¶ 26. To do so would impermissibly increase
defendant's sentence on appeal. Id. Therefore,
we reject the ...