Second District Appellate Court Rejects Contention That Murder Sentence Was Void.

This case involves a novel yet unsuccessful attempt to use appellate jurisdiction to defeat a correction to an illegal sentence. The defendant was found guilty in a jury trial of murder and attempt murder with a firearm. Instead of imposing mandatory consecutive minimum sentences of 45 years for the murder followed by 26 years for the attempt murder, the court imposed concurrent sentences of 40 and 20, respectively.

The defendant immediately filed a notice of appeal. The State responded by filing a motion in the trial court to impose at least the mandatory minimums and to have them imposed consecutively. The State also filed a motion to strike the defendant’s notice of appeal as untimely. The trial court granted these motions and raised these sentences.

The defendant appealed, claiming that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to impose the new sentences because of the defendant’s filed notice of appeal. The defendant lost on these grounds. After trying a post-conviction petition, the defendant tried a 1401 petition under the code of civil procedure.

The petition claimed a violation of the ex post facto clause of the Constitution. This argument included a repeat that the State has no ability to file motions to impose legally correct sentences. The appellate court interpreted Rule 606 of the Illinois Supreme Court rules to mean that the State can file motions at this stage, not just defense counsel.

The case is People v. Muhammad Abdullah; 2018 IL App (2d) 150840.

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