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People v. Daniels

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Sixth Division

July 21, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Respondent-Appellee,
v.
RONALD DANIELS, Petitioner-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 05 CR 26780, Honorable Joseph G. Kazmierski, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE CUNNINGHAM delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Connors and Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          CUNNINGHAM, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Defendant Ronald Daniels appeals from the order of the circuit court of Cook County denying his petition under section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure to vacate his conviction for aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. In a June 2016 opinion, this court vacated the defendant's conviction, and determined that we lacked jurisdiction to grant the State's request (raised for the first time on appeal) to reinstate charges that were nol-prossed at the time of defendant's plea agreement. The supreme court subsequently directed us to consider the effect of People v. Shinaul, 2017 IL 120162, as to whether there is appellate jurisdiction to consider the reinstatement of the nol-prossed counts, and, if so, whether those counts can be reinstated. We reverse the denial of defendant's section 2-1401 petition and vacate his conviction, but we conclude we lack jurisdiction to determine whether the nol-prossed counts may be reinstated.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 Defendant was arrested on a city bus after he was found in possession of a revolver and four rounds of ammunition. Defendant was charged with six counts of aggravated unlawful use of a weapon (AUUW) pursuant to various provisions of the AUUW statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6 (West 2004)), as well as two counts of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon (UUWF). 720 ILCS 5/24-1.1(a) (West 2004)).

         ¶ 4 Defendant pled guilty to one charge of AUUW under the provisions criminalizing possession of an unloaded firearm with ammunition immediately accessible. 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1)/(3)(B) (West 2004)). As defendant had a prior felony conviction, this offense was a Class 2 felony under the AUUW statute's sentencing provision. See 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(d) (West 2006). Defendant received a six-year sentence. Pursuant to the plea agreement, the State entered a nolle prosequi with respect to the remaining seven counts.

         ¶ 5 After he completed his sentence, defendant filed a petition to vacate his conviction[1]pursuant to section 2-1401 of the Code of Civil Procedure. 735 ILCS 5/2-1401 (West 2012)). The petition asserted that his AUUW conviction was invalid pursuant to People v. Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116, in which our supreme court held that "the Class 4 form of section 24-1.6(a)(1), (a)(3)(A), (d) violates the right to keep and bear arms, as guaranteed by the second amendment to the United States Constitution." Aguilar, 2013 IL 112116, ¶ 22. In response, the State argued that Aguilar was limited to the "Class 4" form of the offense and did not invalidate the statutory provision specifying a "Class 2" felony when the offender has a prior felony conviction. 720 ILCS 5/24-1.6 (d) (West 2006)).

         ¶ 6 On March 11, 2014, the trial court denied defendant's petition to vacate his conviction. After the trial court denied his motion to reconsider, defendant filed a timely appeal.

         ¶ 7 In its appellate brief, the State acknowledged that defendant's conviction must be vacated in light of People v. Burns, 2015 IL 117387, decided pending this appeal. However, the State asked this court to remand this cause to the trial court to reinstate six of the seven nol-prossed charges against defendant.

         ¶ 8 In June 2016, this court issued an opinion which vacated defendant's conviction but held that we lacked jurisdiction to consider the State's request to reinstate the nol-prossed charges. On March 29, 2017, our supreme court entered a supervisory order directing this court to vacate the June 2016 opinion and "to consider the effect of [the supreme court's] opinion in People v. Shinaul, 2017 IL 120162, on the issues of whether (1) the appellate court has jurisdiction to consider the reinstatement of previously nol-prossed counts following a court vacating a conviction based on a guilty plea in exchange for remaining counts being nol-prossed; and (2) if there is jurisdiction, whether the nol-prossed counts can be reinstated." This court subsequently vacated our June 2016 opinion.

         ¶ 9 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 10 We first address defendant's argument on appeal that the trial court erred in denying his section 2-1401 petition to vacate the conviction. "[S]ection 2-1401 of the Code represents a comprehensive statutory procedure authorizing a trial court to vacate or modify a final order or judgment in civil and criminal proceedings. [Citations.] A proceeding under section 2-1401 constitutes an independent and separate action from the original action ***." Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District v. Walters, 2015 IL 117783, ¶ 31. Where a section 2-1401 petition raises a purely legal challenge to a judgment, the standard of review is de novo. Id. ¶ 47.

         ¶ 11 Defendant asserts that his conviction pursuant to section 24-1.6(a)(1)/(3)(B) of the AUUW statute (720 ILCS 5/24-1.6(a)(1)/(3)(B) (West 2004)) (subsection (3)(B)) must be vacated because the statute is unconstitutional. Subsection (3)(B) specified that a person committed the offense of AUUW if he knowingly possessed a firearm that was "uncased, unloaded and the ammunition for the ...


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