Illinois supreme court clarifies the revestment doctrine
The Second District Appellate Court’s disposition of this case is the subject of an earlier post. (See The Strange Doctrine of Revestment – 12/15/12) Over 3-1/2 years after sentencing on an open guilty plea, the defendant filed an untimely motion to vacate his plea and sentence, without complying with Illinois Supreme Court Rule 604(d). The State did not challenge the timeliness of the motion but opposed it with arguments on the merits. After the trial court denied the motion (on grounds other than coming too late), the defendant appealed.
The Second District panel dismissed the appeal, concluding that it did not have appellate jurisdiction because the trial court was never revested with jurisdiction to entertain the defendant’s motion. The court held that the State’s participation “by arguing against a postplea motion is not inconsistent with the prior judgment and does not function to revest the trial court with jurisdiction.”
On further appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court noted the general rule that trial courts lose jurisdiction 30 days after entry of the judgment. It then reiterated the three requirements for the “narrow exception” created by the revestment doctrine to apply: (1) active participation by the parties in proceedings subsequent to a judgment; (2) without objection; (3) in proceedings inconsistent with the merits of the earlier judgment. If any one of the requirements is unfulfilled, the revestment doctrine will not apply. Thus, a party’s active participation in proceedings without objecting on grounds of timeliness or finality is not enough to satisfy the requirement that the proceedings be inconsistent with the prior judgment. Courts have refused to apply the doctrine where one party has opposed setting aside the prior judgment, regardless of the ground of objection.
Although agreeing with the appellate court’s conclusion with respect to the revestment doctrine, the supreme court held that the appellate court erred in dismissing the appeal. Even though the appellate court did not have jurisdiction to address the substantive merits of the circuit court’s judgment, it did have jurisdiction to render a decision on the issue of the circuit court’s jurisdiction. After concluding that the trial court lacked jurisdiction, the appellate court should have vacated the trial court’s judgment and ordered that the defendant’s motion be dismissed.
People v. Bailey, 2014 IL 115459.