Articles Posted in Illinois Supreme Court

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A minor was questioned outside his home by a special agent of the police department, accompanied by a DCFS child protection worker, in the presence of the child’s mother and stepfather. After the interview, a petition for adjudication of wardship was filed, alleging that the minor was delinquent for having committed aggravated criminal sexual abuse concerning a young girl. The court suppressed the minor’s inculpatory statements after it was alleged that Miranda warnings had not been given. The appellate court dismissed, stating that it lacked jurisdiction. Although interlocutory appeals are allowed, in criminal cases, from the granting of suppression motions, there is no such provision in juvenile matters. The Illinois Supreme Court remanded after exercising its constitutional rulemaking authority to modify procedural Rule 660(a), which previously incorporated into minor proceedings criminal appeals rules only as to final judgments, to allow the state to take an interlocutory appeal. Since the 1998 Juvenile Justice Reform Amendments, virtually all of the protections of the criminal justice system are afforded to juveniles, and the law has moved toward protecting the public and holding minors more accountable. The state has the same interest in appealing a suppression order in a juvenile case as it does in a criminal case. The court declined to turn the matter over to the rules committee. View "In re B.C.P." on Justia Law

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The mother began a relationship with Jason in 2001; J.W. was born in 2002. The couple married in 2003 and divorced in 2006. The court awarded J.W.’s mother custody and Jason visitation. In 2008, the mother married Joe. Months later, DNA testing determined that J.W. was the biological child of Steve, with whom the mother, unbeknownst to Jason, had a one-time sexual encounter in 2001. The mother temporarily separated from Joe, moved, and placed J.W. in school near Steve’s residence. Steve began successful proceedings to legally establish his parentage, but the mother reunited with Joe. They had a child together. Steve’s attempts to have visitation with J.W. were opposed by Jason, who had been presumed to be J.W.’s father until 2008. The circuit court determined that it was not in J.W.’s best interests to have visitation with Steve. The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, holding that under section 14(a)(1) of the Parentage Act, the initial burden is on the noncustodial parent to show visitation is in the best interests of the child, using the best-interests standard of section 602 of the Marriage Act, and that the circuit court’s decision was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. View "In re the Parentage of J.W." on Justia Law

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Chicago police responded to a street fight. One yelled “police, stop, stop,” but M.I., then 16, fired multiple gunshots in their direction. A petition to have M.I. adjudicated delinquent was filed, and the state successfully moved to designate the proceedings as an “extended jurisdiction juvenile prosecution.” M.I. waived his right to a jury trial. After adjudicating him delinquent the circuit court sentenced him for aggravated discharge of a firearm, to an indeterminate period in the juvenile division of the Department of Corrections, to end no later than his twenty-first birthday. The court also imposed a 23-year adult sentence, stayed pending successful completion of the juvenile sentence. The appellate and supreme courts affirmed. M.I. argued that the hearing on designation as an extended jurisdiction juvenile proceeding was not held within the statutory time period, but the supreme court held that the statute is directory rather than mandatory. M.I. raised a constitutional vagueness challenge to the statutory provision that a stay of an adult sentence may be revoked for violation of the “conditions” of a sentence. Such a stay was part of the original sentence, and the state is seeking revocation based on a subsequent drug offense, but this was not the provision under which revocation was sought, so M.I. lacked standing for the challenge. M.I. also claimed that there was a due process violation in imposing a 23-year adult sentence, citing Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000). The court found no Apprendi violation, noting that the extended jurisdiction juvenile statute is dispositional rather than adjudicatory. View "In re M.I." on Justia Law

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In 2009, Julie was reported to the Department of Children and Family Services by her estranged husband concerning events involving alcoholism. After an investigation, DCFS made an indicated finding of child neglect and an ALJ issued an opinion that the mother had created an environment injurious to the health and welfare of her minor daughter under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act. The circuit court upheld the results. The appellate court reversed and the supreme court agreed. The Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act permitted a finding of neglect, prior to 1980, based on placing a child in an environment injurious to the child’s welfare. The “injurious environment” language was deleted in 1980 and was not restored until 2012, after the events at issue. During that time DCFS had promulgated rules describing specific incidents of harm constituting abuse or neglect that included “Substantial Risk of Physical Injury/Environment Injurious to Health and Welfare;” the court held that, after the legislature specifically removed the injurious environment language from the Act, DCFS was without authority to reestablish an injurious-environment definition of neglect. The fact that the Juvenile Court Act, a different statute, includes injurious environment in its definition of neglect does not mandate a different result. View "Julie Q. v. Dept. of Children & Family Servs." on Justia Law

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In 2010, the younger child, a boy aged 2½ years, was brought to the emergency room by his mother. He had second-degree burns on his face. His mother had found him, injured, at the home of her boyfriend, who had been babysitting her two children. She did not live with the boyfriend. The children were determined to be neglected based on a finding of “environment injurious to their welfare.” The appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court agreed with the appellate court, noting that the evidence did not show that the mother had any prior indication that the boyfriend would not provide a safe environment and also noting that she immediately took the child to the hospital. The finding of neglect was against the manifest weight of the evidence. View "In re A.P." on Justia Law

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Murdock, then 16, was convicted in 2001 of first degree murder and aggravated battery with a firearm. The conviction was affirmed. Defendant filed a post-conviction petition alleging trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move to suppress statements made to police. Defendant, a juvenile, alleged his statements were the product of police coercion that rendered them involuntary. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied defendant’s petition. The appellate court reversed and remanded for a suppression hearing. The trial court denied the motion on remand. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, rejecting an argument based on the absence of a concerned adult during defendant's police detention. Defendant was able to clearly communicate and understand the questions posed to him. He was able to understand and give assent to a waiver of his Miranda rights. On tape defendant appeared mostly calm and collected. He did not appear frightened or under any intense coercion. Defendant was never threatened physically or mentally and there were no promises or assurances to defendant to contribute to a coercive atmosphere. Defendant was allowed access to food, drink, and restroom; his statements were the result of his own decisions. View "People v. Murdock" on Justia Law

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S.B., 14 years old, and a four-year-old girl played a game; both got undressed. S.B. was charged as a juvenile with aggravated criminal sexual abuse. Evidence indicated that he suffered mild retardation and functioned as if seven or eight years old, not as a pedophile. The judge found him unfit for trial and set the matter for a “discharge” or “innocence only” hearing. The provision is found in the Code of Criminal Procedure but not in the Juvenile Court Act and allows an unfit individual to be ordered held for treatment. The evidence was found sufficient to support the charge, so S.B. was found “not not guilty.” Following outpatient evaluation, the court found S.B. still unfit, although neither mentally ill nor a threat to public safety, and ordered him to register as a sex offender. Because he had never been adjudicated delinquent, the appellate court reversed. The Illinois Supreme Court held that the statute on “discharge” or “innocence only” hearings may be applied to juveniles. S.B. can be required to register. Registration is required after “a finding not resulting in an acquittal,” following a discharge hearing on an applicable charge. The court construed the statute to allow petition for registration termination (not specified in the statute). View "In re S.B." on Justia Law

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Parents of adopted sons, Austin, 16, and Ricky, 15, retained counsel to represent both. Each was charged with misdemeanor criminal sexual abuse of other boys under foster care in the household. After a joint bench proceeding, the petition against Ricky was denied. The circuit court found that an admission Austin purportedly made to police was sufficient to prove the charges. He was adjudicated a delinquent minor and sentenced to probation. The appellate court affirmed. The Supreme Court of Illinois reversed. A minor accused of delinquency has a non-waivable right to a defense attorney. In addition to representing accuseds jointly, counsel allowed presentation of videotaped statements of the alleged victims in lieu of live testimony, which could have been cross-examined. Counsel never argued that Austin’s purported statement was involuntary or sought to suppress it, despite evidence that Austin was questioned aggressively and had diminished mental capabilities. The representation was not the type of counsel guaranteed by due process and the Juvenile Court Act. The court and counsel indicated that they viewed the attorney as functioning as a guardian ad litem. There is a per se conflict where counsel attempts to perform as guardian ad litem and defense counsel in a delinquency proceeding. The evidence was sufficient that there was no double jeopardy bar to a new trial. View "In re Austin M." on Justia Law

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Defendant was convicted of aggravated battery with a firearm and aggravated discharge of a firearm under an accountability theory and was sentenced to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 14 years and five years,respectively. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed and remanded for a new trial. Reversible error occurred when the state was allowed to impeach defendant, who testified at trial, with his prior juvenile adjudication for burglary. A juvenile adjudication is typically not admissible against a testifying defendant, and defendant did not "open the door" to admission of his juvenile adjudication. View "People v. Villa" on Justia Law

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The baby was exposed to cocaine in utero; the state took the child into protective custody and filed a petition pursuant to 705 ILCS 405/2-13. The petition did not seek termination of parental rights. Mother was personally served; abode service was made on father by leaving the summons and petition with his mother at the house they shared. The circuit court made the baby a ward of the court. By the time of the permanency hearing, mother's whereabouts were unknown. Although father did not comply with all aspects of the service plan, the court continued to set return to the family as the permanency goal. When the baby was about 18 months old, the court allowed foster parents to intervene and the state to begin termination proceedings and subsequently entered a default judgment against father. The appellate court reversed because the state had made no attempt to serve father. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed. The court noted many procedural defects and that father had made progress in meeting goals during nine months following the adjudication of neglect. Because he was not found to be deficient until after that period, the petition for termination was untenable as a matter of law. View "In re Haley D." on Justia Law