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People v. Orahim

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 19, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
ROBERT IBRAHIM ORAHIM, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Du Page County. No. 16-DV-1577 Honorable Jeffrey S. MacKay, Judge, Presiding.

          SPENCE, JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Schostok concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          SPENCE, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Defendant, Robert Ibrahim Orahim, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault (720 ILCS 5/12-2(c)(1) (West 2016)) and violation of an order of protection (id. § 12-3.4(a)(1)). On January 6, 2017, he was sentenced to two years' probation. On January 31, 2017, he moved to reconsider his sentence. The trial court denied that motion on February 16, 2017. On February 21, 2017, defendant moved to withdraw his plea. The trial court denied that motion on April 5, 2017. Defendant filed a notice of appeal the next day. On appeal, defendant's attorney moves to withdraw under Anders v. California, 386 U.S. 738 (1967), and People v. Jones, 38 Ill.2d 384 (1967), arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction of defendant's motion to withdraw his plea and that this court lacks jurisdiction to reach the merits of his appeal. We agree. Accordingly, we vacate the trial court's denial of defendant's motion to withdraw his plea, and we dismiss that motion. See People v. Bailey, 2014 IL 115459, ¶ 29.

         ¶ 2 "[A]n appeal is perfected by the timely filing of a notice of appeal, and it is this step which vests the appellate court with jurisdiction." In re J.T., 221 Ill.2d 338, 346 (2006). Under Illinois Supreme Court Rule 606(b) (eff. July 1, 2017), a notice of appeal is timely if it is filed "within 30 days after the entry of the final judgment appealed from or[, ] if a motion directed against the judgment is timely filed, within 30 days after the entry of the order disposing of the motion." The final judgment in a criminal case is the sentence. People v. Caballero, 102 Ill.2d 23, 51 (1984). A motion to reconsider the sentence or a motion to withdraw a plea is timely if it is filed within 30 days after the sentence. Ill. S.Ct. R. 604(d) (eff. July 1, 2017). Here, within 30 days after the sentence, defendant did not file a notice of appeal but did file a timely motion to reconsider the sentence. However, defendant did not file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the ruling on that motion; instead, he filed an untimely motion to withdraw his plea, and he filed a notice of appeal within 30 days after the ruling on that motion.

         ¶ 3 As defendant's attorney asserts, the trial court lacked jurisdiction of defendant's motion to withdraw his plea, and we lack jurisdiction to reach the merits of his appeal. The controlling case is Sears v. Sears, 85 Ill.2d 253 (1981).[1] There, two cases were consolidated. In one, the trial court entered a final judgment on October 12. The plaintiff filed a motion directed against the judgment on November 13 (which was timely because the thirtieth day after the judgment was a Saturday). The trial court denied that motion two days later. The plaintiff then filed a successive motion on December 11. The trial court granted that motion. On appeal, the appellate court held that the trial court lacked jurisdiction of the successive motion. Id. at 257.

         ¶ 4 The supreme court affirmed the appellate court. The supreme court observed that a timely motion "not only extends the circuit court's jurisdiction, but also extends the appellate court's potential jurisdiction, the time within which a notice of appeal may be filed, until 30 days after the motion is denied." Id. at 258. The plaintiff's successive motion, however, was not timely, and thus it "did not extend the time for appeal or renew the circuit court's jurisdiction." Id. at 260.

         ¶ 5 Under Sears, defendant's timely motion to reconsider his sentence extended both the trial court's jurisdiction and his time to appeal. However, when the trial court ruled on that motion, its jurisdiction lapsed, and defendant's untimely motion to withdraw his plea did not renew the trial court's jurisdiction or extend his time to appeal. Defendant had to file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the ruling on his motion to reconsider his sentence. Because he did not, his notice of appeal was untimely.

         ¶ 6 The State argued to the trial court that, because defendant's motion to withdraw his plea was filed more than 30 days after the judgment, the court had no jurisdiction of it. The trial court disagreed, indicating that it had jurisdiction of the motion to withdraw the plea because defendant filed it within 30 days after the ruling on the motion to reconsider the sentence. In fairness, this court has sustained that view. In In re Marriage of Agustsson, 223 Ill.App.3d 510 (1992), we interpreted Sears as holding only that such a successive motion does not extend the time to appeal, not that a trial court lacks jurisdiction of the motion. See id. at 516-17; see also People v. Walker, 395 Ill.App.3d 860, 869 (2009) (under Agustsson, "the bar on successive postjudgment motions does not affect the jurisdiction of the trial court, but rather is a limit on the time for appeal"); People v. Serio, 357 Ill.App.3d 806, 817 (2005) (under Agustsson, "The trial court has jurisdiction to rule on a successive postjudgment motion where the successive motion is filed within 30 days of the final disposition of the preceding postjudgment motion. Jurisdiction vests in the appellate court when the trial court disposes of the successive motion and a notice of appeal is filed within 30 days of the denial of the first motion ***." (Emphases in original.)). But in Agustsson we simply misinterpreted Sears. As we note here, the supreme court held that the plaintiff's successive motion "did not extend the time for appeal or renew the circuit court's jurisdiction." (Emphasis added.) Sears, 85 Ill.2d at 260. Clearly, then, the trial court here lacked jurisdiction of defendant's successive motion.

         ¶ 7 Crucial to our holding, we observe, is the fact that defendant's successive motion was filed more than 30 days after the judgment. The Sears court specifically limited its holding to that circumstance. Id. at 259. This court has extended that holding to the circumstance in which the successive motion is filed within 30 days after the judgment. See Benet Realty Corp. v. Lisle Savings & Loan Ass'n, 175 Ill.App.3d 227, 231-32 (1988); see also Illinois State Toll Highway Authority v. Gary-Wheaton Bank, 203 Ill.App.3d 672, 677 (1990) ("Where multiple post-trial motions are filed within 30 days of the court's final judgment, but where the second post-trial motion is filed only after the first post-trial motion was denied, the trial court still does not have jurisdiction to hear the second post-trial motion."). As we do not confront that circumstance here, we need not assess the validity of that application of Sears.

         ¶ 8 We also wish to explicitly distinguish People v. Salem, 2016 IL 118693. There, in each of two cases, "[the] defendant filed a motion for new trial more than 30 days after the jury returned the guilty verdict, but less than 30 days after [the] defendant was sentenced." (Emphasis added.) Id. ¶ 1. The supreme court held that, because a motion for a new trial must be filed within 30 days after the return of a verdict (725 ILCS 5/116-1(b) (West 2014)), the defendant's motion was untimely and did not extend the time to appeal. In arguing otherwise, the defendant cited People v. Talach, 114 Ill.App.3d 813 (1983), and People v. Gilmore, 356 Ill.App.3d 1023 (2005), which applied Talach. The supreme court noted that, pursuant to those decisions, although the defendant's motion did not extend the time to appeal, the trial court had jurisdiction of it:" '[t]he trial court still retain[ed] jurisdiction after 30 days from the entry of the verdict because the final judgment in a criminal case is the pronouncement of sentence.'" Salem, 2016 IL 118693, ¶ 13 (quoting Talach, 114 Ill.App.3d at 818). Thus, under Salem, a trial court has jurisdiction of an untimely motion when it otherwise has jurisdiction of the case.[2] That was not the situation in Sears, and it is not the situation here.

         ¶ 9 In his partial dissent, Justice McLaren asserts that, although defendant's motion to withdraw his plea did not extend his time to appeal, it did extend the trial court's jurisdiction. According to Justice McLaren, Sears's limitation on a trial court's jurisdiction was abrogated by the supreme court's later recognition-in a line of cases beginning with Steinbrecher v. Steinbrecher, 197 Ill.2d 514 (2001)-that trial courts, irrespective of any statutory authority, "have original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters." Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 9. However, a decade after deciding Steinbrecher, the supreme court acknowledged that the constitution's grant of "jurisdiction of all justiciable matters" is not a grant of infinite jurisdiction in any individual case:

"Article VI, section 9, of the Illinois Constitution confers upon circuit courts jurisdiction over all justiciable matters. [Citation.] *** However, once cases are heard and determined, '[t]he jurisdiction of trial courts to reconsider and modify their judgments is not indefinite.' [Citation.] Generally, [i.e., unless a timely motion directed against the judgment is filed, ] a circuit court loses jurisdiction to vacate or modify its judgment 30 days after entry of judgment. [Citations.]" People ex rel. Alvarez v. Skryd, 241 Ill.2d 34, 40 (2011).

         Thus, Steinbrecher and its progeny did nothing to disturb Sears. Although a trial court's jurisdiction is constitutional, that jurisdiction still expires. See also Hawes v. Luhr Brothers, Inc., 212 Ill.2d 93, 107 (2004) ("Since plaintiff's motion to vacate was made within the 30-day period allowed by section 2-1203 of the Code, the trial court had jurisdiction to hear and decide it."); Brewer v. National R.R. Passenger Corp., 165 Ill.2d 100, 105 (1995) ("A trial court retains jurisdiction over a cause for 30 days after entry of a final order or judgment."); People v. Harris, 2016 IL App (1st) 141778, ¶ 19 ("We find the trial court lost jurisdiction over this matter 30 days after it denied defendant's motion to vacate ***. After that date, the trial court did not have jurisdiction to rule on defendant's motion to refile and reinstate."). It is true that the trial court here had constitutional jurisdiction of the justiciable matter in this case. But it is also true that, once the trial court entered its final judgment on that matter and ruled on defendant's timely motion to reconsider his sentence, it could not exercise jurisdiction of defendant's untimely motion to withdraw his plea.

         ¶ 10 Justice McLaren also cites Illinois Supreme Court Rule 303(a)(2), which currently provides that "[n]o request for reconsideration of a ruling on a postjudgment motion will toll the running of the time within which a notice of appeal must be filed." Ill. S.Ct. R. 303(a)(2) (eff. July 1, 2017). Suffice to say that we see nothing in that rule to suggest any intent as to a trial court's jurisdiction, let alone an intent to overrule Sears.

         ¶ 11 Finally, Justice McLaren asserts that, even if Sears is still good law, it holds that a trial court lacks jurisdiction of a successive motion only when the motion raises issues that were or could have been raised in the original motion. To be sure, the Sears court cited a policy concern against repetitive motions. Sears, 85 Ill.2d at 258 (citing Deckard v. Joiner, 44 Ill.2d 412 (1970)). But the court's holding was in no way limited to that particular concern: "A motion not filed within 30 days after the judgment (or any extension allowed) is not 'timely' ***; and an untimely motion *** neither stays the judgment [(i.e., continues the trial court's jurisdiction to alter that judgment)] nor extends the time for appeal." Id. at 259. Thus, a trial court's jurisdiction of a motion is controlled by its timing, not merely its content. The opposite strikes us as flatly absurd.

         ¶ 12 In sum, the trial court lacked jurisdiction of defendant's motion to withdraw his plea, and we lack jurisdiction to reach the merits of his appeal.[3] However, under Bailey, 2014 IL 115459, ¶ 29, we nevertheless have the "limited" jurisdiction to vacate the trial court's ruling on the motion and to dismiss the motion. That, accordingly, is what we do.[4]

         ¶ 13 Order vacated; motion dismissed.

         ¶ 14 JUSTICE McLAREN, concurring in part and dissenting in part:

         ¶ 15 I concur as to the dismissal of this appeal. The time to appeal expired because the successive posttrial motion did not stay the appeal time, and therefore, the notice of appeal was late. See Ill. S.Ct. R. 303(a)(2) (eff. July 1, 2017). However the majority then goes on to vacate the trial court's denial of defendant's motion to withdraw his plea. In reaching that decision, the majority relies on an outmoded concept of jurisdiction that has not been followed in this state since at least 2001. Further, even the majority's application of the outmoded case law is faulty. I believe that the trial court had jurisdiction to rule on the motion, and therefore, I dissent from that portion of the majority opinion.

         ¶ 16 The majority cites Sears as the controlling authority for its holding and ratio decidendi that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to consider the merits of the motion. It also cites Bailey as the basis for vacating the trial court's order of denial rather than simply dismissing the appeal.[5] I believe that a quartet of cases, along with the amendment of Rule 303, has rendered Sears obsolete with regard to the issue of jurisdiction in general and to its application to successive postjudgment motions specifically. The first case in the quartet is Steinbrecher, 197 Ill.2d 514, followed by Belleville Toyota, Inc. v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., 199 Ill.2d 325 (2002), then LVNV Funding, LLC v. Trice, 2015 IL 116129, and culminating in People v. Castleberry, 2015 IL 116916. Because Sears is obsolete, the vacation of the order as prescribed by Bailey is inapt.

         ¶ 17 It is important to note that Sears based its holding that the trial courts lost jurisdiction to rule on the successive posttrial motions on the lack of authorization to deal with such a motion in either the Civil Practice Act or supreme court rules. Sears, 85 Ill.2d at 258-60. This is the "lack of inherent authority" argument, which contends that failure to follow statutory procedures divests the court of jurisdiction and renders a resulting order "void." See Steinbrecher, 197 Ill.2d at 529. However, as our supreme court explained:

"Steinbrecher noted that a 1964 constitutional amendment significantly altered the basis of circuit court jurisdiction, granting circuit courts 'original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters, and such powers of review of administrative action as may be provided by law.' Ill. Const. 1870, art. VI (amended 1964), § 9. The current Illinois Constitution, adopted in 1970, retained this amendment and provides that 'Circuit Courts shall have original jurisdiction of all justiciable matters' and that 'Circuit Courts shall have such power to review administrative action as provided by law.' Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 9. Steinbrecher reasoned that, because circuit court jurisdiction is granted by the constitution, it cannot be the case that the failure to satisfy a certain statutory requirement or prerequisite can deprive the circuit court of its 'power' or jurisdiction to hear a cause of action. Steinbrecher, 197 Ill.2d at 529-32.

         In so holding, Steinbrecher emphasized the difference between an administrative agency and a circuit court. An administrative agency, Steinbrecher observed, is a purely statutory creature and is powerless to act unless statutory authority exists. Id. at 530 (citing City of Chicago v. Fair Employment Practices Comm'n, 65 Ill.2d 108, 112 (1976)). A circuit court, on the other hand, 'is a court of general jurisdiction, which need not look to the statute for its jurisdictional authority.' Id. Thus, Steinbrecher concluded that the' "inherent power" requirement applies to courts of limited jurisdiction and administrative agencies' but not to circuit courts. Id." (Emphasis omitted.) LVNV Funding, 2015 IL 116129, ¶¶ 30-31.

         I am unaware of any authority, and the majority has not cited any, that even implies that a supreme court rule may amend the Illinois Constitution and somehow alter the general jurisdiction of trial courts to something less than subject matter jurisdiction combined with personal jurisdiction.

         ¶ 18 Steinbrecher was reaffirmed in Belleville Toyota, 199 Ill.2d 325, which "reasoned that a statutory requirement or prerequisite cannot be jurisdictional, since jurisdiction is conferred on the circuit courts by our state constitution." LVNV Funding, 2015 IL 116129, ¶ 34. Belleville Toyota also stated:

"Simply stated, 'subject matter jurisdiction' refers to the power of a court to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceeding in question belongs. [Citations.] With the exception of the circuit court's power to review administrative action, which is conferred by statute, a circuit court's subject matter jurisdiction is conferred entirely by our state constitution. [Citations.] Under section 9 of article VI, that jurisdiction extends to all 'justiciable matters.' Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 9. Thus, in order to invoke the subject matter jurisdiction of the circuit court, a plaintiff's case, as framed by the complaint or petition, must present a justiciable matter. See People ex rel. Scott v. Janson, 57 Ill.2d 451, 459 (1974) (if a complaint states a case belonging to a general class over which the authority of the court extends, subject matter jurisdiction attaches); Western Tire, 32 Ill.2d at 530 (the test of the presence of subject matter jurisdiction is found in the nature of the case as made by the complaint and ...

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