By Mark Wilson
The Illinois Supreme Court held in September 2013 that a $50 State’s Attorney fee authorized in habeas corpus cases does not apply to non-habeas collateral proceedings.
After an Illinois trial court dismissed a post-conviction petition filed by state prisoner Omar Johnson, he submitted a petition for relief from judgment under section 2-1401 of the Illinois Code of Civil Procedure.
The state moved to dismiss the petition and requested that Johnson be assessed filing fees and court costs under section 22-105(a) of the Code of Civil Procedure, for filing a frivolous petition.
The trial court granted the state’s motion to dismiss and assessed fees and costs against Johnson, including a $50 State’s Attorney fee pursuant to section 4-2002.1(a) of the Counties Code, which authorizes the fee in habeas corpus cases. Johnson appealed, lost in the appellate court and the Illinois Supreme Court granted review.
The Supreme Court interpreted section 4-2002.1(a) to determine whether the legislature had intended the fee to extend beyond habeas cases to all collateral proceedings.
“Giving the term ‘habeas corpus’ … its plain and ordinary meaning,” the Court concluded the fee “only applies to the various types of habeas corpus proceedings.” The Court held that “collateral proceedings such as a section 2-1401 petition and a post-conviction petition” are not habeas proceedings, and the legislature did not intend for the fee to “apply ‘generically’ to all collateral proceedings.”
As such, the state Supreme Court reversed in part the judgment of the trial and appellate courts, and remanded with instructions to vacate the $50 State’s Attorney fee. See: People v. Johnson, 2013 IL 114639, 995 N.E.2d 986 (Ill. 2013).
Although a legal victory, the ruling may be small consolation for Johnson, who is serving natural life plus at least 60 years.
(Published by Prison Legal News; used by permission)