Supreme Court Summaries
Opinions filed September 19, 2013
People v. Johnson, 2013 IL 114639
Appellate citation: 2012 IL App (1st) 111378.
JUSTICE FREEMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, Burke, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.
This Cook County offender received a natural life term and other sentences for first degree murder and other offenses, and his subsequent postconviction petition was dismissed. The appellate court affirmed.
In 2008, Johnson began proceedings under section 2-1404 of the Code of Civil Procedure, which provides an avenue for seeking relief from a judgment. He was not successful in this regard. In the wake of his failure, the State sought recovery under the statute providing for the assessment of various fees and costs against prisoners who file frivolous lawsuits. The circuit court made the assessments requested and the appellate court affirmed.
Only one of the charges made is at issue here. The Counties Code provides that a State’s Attorney may collect a $50 fee for each day actually employed in the hearing of a case of habeas corpus. A charge was made under this provision, with the prosecution contending that the habeas corpus fee applies to all collateral proceedings, such as a petition for relief from judgment or a postconviction petition. In the appellate court, it was held that the reference to habeas corpus is generic and is meant to apply to all collateral proceedings, in order to deter frivolous filings.
The supreme court disagreed, stating that, although there are several different types of habeas corpus proceedings, the Counties Code provision applies only to them and is not generic. If the legislature intended otherwise, it could have said so.
Because the fee assessment challenged here was improper, the judgments of the circuit and appellate courts were reversed and the cause was remanded to the circuit court to vacate the fee and correct the mittimus.