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People v. Hunter

Supreme Court of Illinois

November 30, 2017

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee,
v.
KEVIN HUNTER, Appellant. THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Appellee,
v.
DRASHUN WILSON, Appellant.

          THEIS JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Karmeier and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Kilbride, Garman, and Burke concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          THEIS JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 In these consolidated appeals we consider the temporal reach of two legislative enactments: (1) an amendment to section 5-130(1)(a) of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (Act) (705 ILCS 405/5-130 (West 2016)), which, inter alia, eliminated armed robbery while armed with a firearm and aggravated vehicular hijacking while armed with a firearm from the list of automatic transfer offenses, and (2) the new juvenile sentencing provisions codified in section 5-4.5-105 of the Unified Code of Corrections (Code) (730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-105 (West 2016)), which, inter alia, give the trial court discretion not to impose otherwise mandatory firearm sentencing enhancements. The appellate court rejected defendants' arguments for retroactive application of these statutes to their cases that were pending on direct review when the statutes became effective and affirmed defendants' convictions and sentences. People v. Hunter, 2016 IL App (1st) 141904, ¶¶ 62, 73; People v. Wilson, 2016 IL App (1st) 141500, ¶ 16. We affirm the judgments of the appellate court, albeit for different reasons.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 No. 121306-People v. Hunter

         ¶ 4 In June 2011, the State charged defendant Kevin Hunter with aggravated vehicular hijacking (720 ILCS 5/18-4(a)(4) (West 2010)), aggravated kidnapping (720 ILCS 5/10-2(a)(6) (West 2010)), and armed robbery (720 ILCS 5/18-2(a)(2) (West 2010)), all while armed with a firearm. The charges arose out of an incident the previous month in which Hunter and two unidentified men robbed Steven Maxwell of personal property including his vehicle and kidnapped him, all at gunpoint. At the time of the offenses, Hunter was 16 years old.

         ¶ 5 The version of section 5-130(1)(a) of the Act then in effect provided as follows:

"§ 5-130. Excluded jurisdiction.
(1)(a) The definition of delinquent minor under Section 5-120 of this Article shall not apply to any minor who at the time of an offense was at least 15 years of age and who is charged with: (i) first degree murder, (ii) aggravated criminal sexual assault, (iii) aggravated battery with a firearm where the minor personally discharged a firearm ***, (iv) armed robbery when the armed robbery was committed with a firearm, or (v) aggravated vehicular hijacking when the hijacking was committed with a firearm.
These charges and all other charges arising out of the same incident shall be prosecuted under the criminal laws of this State." 705 ILCS 405/5-130 (West 2010).

         Pursuant to this statute, Hunter was tried in adult court.

         ¶ 6 Following a bench trial in the circuit court of Cook County, Hunter was convicted on all three counts. The trial court sentenced Hunter to 21 years on each count-the 6-year minimum for a Class X felony, plus the mandatory 15-year firearm enhancement-to be served concurrently. See 720 ILCS 5/18-4(b) (West 2010); 720 ILCS 5/10-2(b) (West 2010); 720 ILCS 5/18-2(b) (West 2010); 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-25(a) (West 2010). Hunter appealed.

         ¶ 7 While Hunter's case was pending in the appellate court, Public Acts 99-69 and 99-258 became effective.[1] Both Public Acts adopted new, identical sentencing provisions applicable to defendants under the age of 18 at the time of the commission of the offense. Pub. Act 99-69, § 10 (eff. Jan. 1, 2016) (adding 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-105); Pub. Act 99-258, § 15 (eff. Jan. 1, 2016) (adding 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-105). Subsection (b) of the new sentencing provisions directs that the court "may, in its discretion, decline to impose any otherwise applicable sentencing enhancement based upon firearm possession, possession with personal discharge, or possession with personal discharge that proximately causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, permanent disfigurement, or death to another person." 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-105(b) (West 2016).

         ¶ 8 Public Act 99-258 also amended section 5-130(1)(a) of the Act, raising the age for automatic transfer to adult court from 15 years to 16 years and eliminating armed robbery while armed with a firearm and aggravated vehicular hijacking while armed with a firearm from the list of automatic transfer offenses. Pub. Act 99-258 (eff. Jan. 1, 2016) (amending 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(a)).

         ¶ 9 In supplemental briefing in the appellate court, Hunter argued that the amendment to the Code and the new sentencing provisions in the Act applied retroactively and that his case should be remanded for a discretionary transfer hearing, as well as a new sentencing hearing. The appellate court held that neither provision applied retroactively and rejected Hunter's other claims of error, thus affirming his convictions and sentence. Hunter, 2016 IL App (1st) 141904, ¶¶ 20, 22, 62, 73, 80. We allowed Hunter's petition for leave to appeal. Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. Mar. 15, 2016).

         ¶ 10 No. 121345-People v. Wilson

         ¶ 11 In October 2012, defendant Drashun Wilson was indicted for attempted first degree murder (720 ILCS 5/8-4(a) (West 2012)) and aggravated battery with a firearm (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05(e)(1) (West 2012)) in connection with the September 23, 2012, shooting of Floyd Fulton. At the time of the offenses and indictment, Wilson was 17 years old and, under the Act, was tried in adult court. See 705 ILCS 405/5-120 (West 2012). Following a jury trial in the circuit court of Cook County, Wilson was found guilty of both offenses. The jury also found that Wilson personally discharged a firearm that proximately caused great bodily harm to another person. After merging the aggravated battery conviction into the attempted murder conviction, the trial court sentenced Wilson to 31 years' imprisonment-the 6-year minimum for a Class X felony, plus the minimum mandatory 25-year firearm enhancement applicable where the defendant personally discharged a firearm that proximately caused great bodily harm. See 720 ILCS 5/8-4(c)(1)(D) (West 2012); 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-25(a) (West 2012). Wilson appealed.

         ¶ 12 While Wilson's case was pending in the appellate court, Public Acts 99-69 and 99-258 became effective. In supplemental briefing, Wilson argued that he was entitled to be resentenced under section 5-4.5-105(b) of the Code, under which the trial court could decline to impose the firearm enhancement. The appellate court held that section 5-4.5-105(b) applied prospectively only. Wilson, 2016 IL App (1st) 141500, ¶ 16. The appellate court rejected Wilson's other claims of error and affirmed his conviction and sentence. Id. ¶¶ 1, 28, 35, 43, 46-47.

         ¶ 13 We allowed Wilson's petition for leave to appeal (Ill. S.Ct. R. 315 (eff. Mar. 15, 2016)) and consolidated Wilson's and Hunter's appeals for review.

         ¶ 14 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 15 Whether the statutory amendments at issue here apply retroactively to defendants' cases presents an issue of statutory construction. As such, our review proceeds de novo. People ex rel. Madigan v. J.T. Einoder, Inc., 2015 IL 117193, ¶ 27; People v. Amigon, 239 Ill.2d 71, 84 (2010).

         ¶ 16 I

         ¶ 17 We consider first the amendment to section 5-130(1)(a) of the Act, adopted in Public Act 99-258. As noted above, the amendment changed the requirements for automatic transfer of a juvenile to adult court, by raising the minimum age from 15 years to 16 years and by eliminating armed robbery while armed with a firearm and aggravated vehicular hijacking while armed with a firearm from the list of automatic transfer offenses. Hunter was charged with both of these offenses. Relying on People ex rel. Alvarez v. Howard, 2016 IL 120729, Hunter argues that the amendment to section 5-130(1)(a) applies retroactively to his case, and because the offenses with which he was charged are no longer qualifying offenses ...


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