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Petitioner, v. HONORABLE CAROL M. HOWARD et al., Respondents.  2016 IL 120729

Following a statutory amendment that raised the automatic transfer age for juveniles, defendant, Luis Montano, moved to send his pending criminal case to juvenile court for a discretionary transfer hearing. Respondent granted the motion.      

The charges against defendant were brought in criminal court, pursuant to the version of section 5-130 of the Juvenile Court Act in effect at the time.   While the charges against defendant were pending in criminal court, the legislature amended section 5-130(1)(a).  Among the changes that Public Act 99-258 made was to raise the age for automatic adult prosecution for the enumerated offenses from 15 to 16 and to reduce the number of offenses that qualify for automatic transfer by eliminating subsections (iv) and (v).   

Defendant argued that the change to the statute was a purely procedural one that should be applied retroactively to pending cases and that the legislature had not included a savings clause preserving criminal jurisdiction over pending cases.  The State filed a response, arguing that because the implementation of Public Act 99-258 was delayed until January 1, 2016, it is presumed to have a prospective effect. The State based its argument on the approach set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Landgraf v. USI Film Products, 511 U.S. 244 (1994), and adopted by this court in Commonwealth Edison Co. v. Will County Collector, 196 Ill. 2d 27 (2001). 

Following a hearing, respondent granted defendant’s motion and transferred the cause to juvenile court.   This court has discretionary original jurisdiction to hear mandamus cases. Ill. Const. 1970, art. VI, § 4(a). Mandamus is an extraordinary remedy used to compel a public official to perform a purely ministerial duty where no exercise of discretion is involved. People ex rel. Birkett v. Konetski, 233 Ill. 2d 185, 192-93 (2009). 

We turn now to the merits of the State’s argument. The State contends that respondent’s order transferring the case to juvenile court was not authorized by law because the statutory amendment changing the automatic transfer age from 15 to 16 applies prospectively only. Respondent and defendant disagree, contending that a straightforward application of this court’s retroactivity jurisprudence shows that the amendment applies retroactively to pending cases. 

We consider first whether the legislature has clearly indicated the temporal reach of the statutory amendment changing the automatic transfer age from 15 to 16.   As we noted above, the legislature did not include a savings clause with respect to this statutory change. The legislature did include a savings clause for other portions of Public Act 99-258, but it did not do so with respect to the amendments to section 5-130. Thus, there is
nothing in the text of the amendment itself that indicates the statute’s temporal reach.  The amendment at issue here was delayed by operation of
section 1(a) of the Effective Date of Laws Act (Effective Date Act) (5 ILCS 75/1(a) (West 2014)), which provides that, “[a] bill passed prior to June 1 of a calendar year that does not provide for an effective date in the terms of the bill shall become effective on January 1 of the following year, or upon its becoming a law, whichever is later.”

This court has clearly stated that every time a statute has been amended, the legislature will have clearly set forth its temporal reach in one of two places: “either expressly in the new legislative enactment or by default in section 4 of the Statute on Statutes.”  If the temporal reach is not set forth in the legislative enactment itself, the default is the Statute on Statutes, not the Effective Date Act.  Moreover, in a case in which this court did discuss the fact that a procedural statutory amendment had been delayed by the Effective Date Act, the court still held that it applied retroactively. People v. Bates, 124 Ill. 2d 81 (1988). 

Finally, it is clear that the legislature itself does not view the Effective Date Act as determining the temporal reach of statutory amendments. As we noted above, the legislature included savings clauses with respect to some portions of Public Act 99-258 but not with respect to others. This is clear evidence that the legislature intended only some of the amendments to be prospective only.  Because the legislature did not set forth the amendment’s temporal reach in the amendment itself, we turn to section 4 of the Statute on Statutes. Under section 4, substantive amendments may not be applied retroactively, but “procedural law changes will apply to ongoing proceedings.” People v. Ziobro, 242 Ill. 2d 34, 46 (2011).

Here, both sides agree that the statutory amendment is procedural.  Because there is no constitutional impediment to retroactive application, the amendment applies to pending cases.  The State further argues that, even if procedural changes are retroactive under Section 4, that section mandates that such changes are applied to “the proceedings thereafter” and only “so far as practicable.” (Emphasis added.) 5 ILCS 70/4 (West 2014). 

In short, the legislature has given clear instructions as to how it wants its statutes applied, and it is not this court’s function to second-guess the legislature’s choices. Rather, under the Landgraf test, this court will respect the legislature’s choice, unless doing so would interfere with a party’s constitutional rights. The Landgraf test strikes the proper balance between the roles of the legislature and the courts. The State is unable to identify any way in which retroactive application will violate the constitution, and this is fatal to the State’s argument.  

In conclusion, the Respondent did not err in transferring defendant’s case from criminal court to juvenile court. Under the previous version of section 5-130, defendant’s case was automatically transferred to criminal court because he was 15 years old when the crimes occurred. The legislature changed the automatic transfer age from 15 to 16, and this amendment was retroactive under section 4 of the Statute on Statutes. Accordingly, defendant’s case belongs in juvenile court, unless and until it is transferred to criminal court pursuant to a discretionary transfer hearing. Because the circuit court’s transfer of the case was not even erroneous, let alone outside the court’s jurisdiction or its legitimate authority, there is no basis for this court to issue a writ of mandamus or prohibition.

Writ denied.