Cases Pending Highlights Criminal Cases In Illinois Supreme Court's May Term

May 03, 2020 10:33 AM | Carson Griffis (Administrator)

The Illinois Supreme Court's May Term begins Monday, May 11, 2020.  For the first time, the Court will be conducting remote oral arguments using Zoom videoconferencing.  Oral arguments are scheduled for May 12, 13, and 14, 2020.  A total of 10 cases, 6 criminal and 4 civil, will be heard. 

The following criminal cases are scheduled for argument this Term:

May 12, 2020

People v. Ashanti Lusby, No. 124046

People v. Miguel DeLeon, No. 124744

People v. Ronald Lee Stoecker, No. 124807

People v. Kevin Jackson, No. 124818

May 13, 2020

People v. Joseph Hollahan, No. 125091

People v. Keith Gaines, No. 125165

Below is a summary for one of these cases, People v. Ashanti Lusby.  Summaries for these cases and others pending in the Illinois Supreme Court can be found in our Cases Pending publication, accessible to ALA members on the ALA's website.

People v. Ashanti Lusby, No. 124046

In People v. Bailey, 2017 IL 121450, the Court held that the circuit court must not seek or be influenced by State input when evaluating whether a defendant should be given leave to file a successive postconviction petition.  The first issue presented by this case is whether the appellate court can assess cause and prejudice (to decide whether leave to file should have been granted) following a Bailey error, or whether the appellate court must remand the matter back to the circuit court for consideration without the State's input.  In the analogous context of improper State influence during summary first-stage review of an initial postconviction petition, the Court has required remand.  Nonetheless, since Bailey, an appellate split has developed regarding whether the appellate court can reach the merits of the leave-to-file issue or must remand.  While defendant's brief remains largely silent on this issue, the State's brief acknowledges that the Court, under its broad supervisory authority, can reach the merits of the leave-to-file issue (as it did in Bailey).  But the State urges the Court to address the scope of the appellate court's authority to resolve the appellate court split.

The merits of the petition concern the constitutionality of defendant's sentence.  Following Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012), Montgomery v. Louisiana, 136 S. Ct. 718 (2016), and People v. Holman, 2017 IL 120655, this case presents the question of whether a de facto natural life sentence (an aggregate 130-year sentence served eligible to be served at 50%) for an offender who committed crimes at age 16 violated the Eighth Amendment.  The State's position on the question first acknowledges that there is a procedural and a substantive component to the Eighth Amendment analysis.  The sentencer must consider youth and its attendant characteristics (the procedural component), before deciding on a proportionate sentence, in that the sentencer must determine whether the crimes reflected transient immaturity, so that a life sentence is unavailable, or reflect permanent incorrigibility, so that a life sentence is available (the substantive component).  Here, the State argues that the appellate majority erred in determining that the sentencer failed to honor this procedural component as reflected in its emphasis on the sentencer's failure to explicitly state that it considered the presentence investigation report that contained evidence relevant to youth and attendant characteristics.  The State further asserts that the appellate majority should have held that, under Holman's analytical framework, the sentence passes constitutional muster.  Defendant, in contrast, emphasizes the factual differences between this case and Holman in agreeing with the appellate majority's conclusion that the sentence violates the Eighth Amendment.

Finally, the State challenges the remedy that the appellate majority provided upon finding an Eighth Amendment violation.  Because the appellate court was reviewing the circuit court's order denying defendant leave to file his successive postconviction petition, the State insists that the majority erred in ordering a new sentencing hearing.  The State suggests that the majority instead should have remanded the matter to the circuit court for the petition to be filed and for second-stage postconviction proceedings to occur.  Defendant finds no fault in the majority's remedy, noting other Eighth Amendment precedent that provides new sentencing hearings even for cases in similar procedural posture.

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