Articles Posted in Supreme Court of Illinois

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Defendant, age 16, was charged with multiple counts of first-degree murder and tried in adult court under the “automatic transfer” provision of the Juvenile Court Act, 705 ILCS 405/5-130. He was convicted only of the uncharged offense of second-degree murder, 720 ILCS 5/9-2(a)(2). The court found that the state had proved the elements of first-degree murder but also found that “at the time of the killing [defendant] believed the circumstances to be such that if they existed would have justified or exonerated the killing under the said principles of self-defense, but his belief was unreasonable.” The state had not filed a written motion requesting that defendant be sentenced as an adult pursuant to 705 ILCS 405/5-130(1)(c)(ii), nor did defendant object or argue at the time of sentencing that he should have been sentenced as a juvenile. Instead, the trial court and the parties proceeded directly to sentencing. Defendant was sentenced, as an adult, to 18 years in prison. The appellate court affirmed. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed, holding that the trial court erred in automatically sentencing defendant as an adult pursuant to section 5-130(1)(c)(i) because second-degree murder was not a “charge[ ] arising out of the same incident” as the first-degree murder charges. View "People v. Fort" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services petitioned for wardship of M.I., a minor, 705 ILCS 405/2-3, alleging that M.I.’s mother had neglected her and that M.I.’s father had an extensive criminal history. The juvenile court granted the petition, finding M.I. to be neglected. The court ordered father to obtain a drug and alcohol assessment, submit to random drug testing twice monthly, undergo a psychological examination, and complete a parenting class. Until he dropped out of high school, father was enrolled in special education courses for learning disabilities. He had been unemployed since 2007. Father had been incarcerated on eight different occasions for approximately 18-19 years in total but had not been incarcerated since 2005. He suffers from bipolar disorder and admitted to regular marijuana use, indicating that he had been clean for two months. Father is functionally illiterate, and possesses an IQ of 58. The state asserted that he did not attend drug testing or participate in a drug and alcohol evaluation and refused to provide an address to his caseworker. The court found both parents unfit. Thereafter, at five different permanency hearings, the juvenile court found that father had failed to make reasonable efforts to achieve the service plan and permanency goal. The court appointed DCFS as guardian. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the termination of father’s rights. The statute, 750 ILCS 50/1(D)(b), does not contain a willfulness requirement. The juvenile court considered father’s intellectual disability and other circumstances, such as his sporadic attendance at visitation, when it found him unfit under subsection (b). View "In re M.I." on Justia Law

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The Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) sought wardship of 9-and-10-year-old children, 705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(b). The minors then lived with their father, Larry, who had a criminal history. Larry entered into an agreed order of protection, allowing the minors to reside with their paternal grandparents. Larry subsequently disclosed the name of the mother, who filed an answer. No information concerning mother was presented at the hearing. The court found that the minors were neglected and that mother did not contribute to the injurious environment. A subsequent report stated that mother had stable housing and had obtained a certified nursing assistant certificate. She was not addicted to alcohol or illegal substances, had passed a random drug screening, and had never been arrested. She takes prescription medication for bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. Mother completed a parenting class and a domestic violence class, had engaged in an intact family program and indicated a willingness to participate in services. The caseworker took no position as to who should be appointed guardian. The state and the guardian ad litem agreed that mother was fit, but argued that DCFS should be appointed guardian. Mother requested custody and guardianship. The court ordered DCFS appointed as guardian, found mother to be fit, and found that placement was necessary, “based on all that was presented in the materials for my review for this disposition and upon considering argument.” The appellate court concluded that the trial court violated 705 ILCS 405/2-27(1). The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed and remanded. The Act does not authorize placing a ward of the court with a third party absent a finding of parental unfitness, inability, or unwillingness to care for the minor. View "In re M.M." on Justia Law

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A grand jury indicted Montano, for 29 counts of first-degree murder, arising out of the 2013 shooting death of Solano, and 4 counts of attempted murder and 1 count of aggravated battery, arising out of the shooting of Maza. Montano was 15 years old at the time of the offenses. The charges were brought in criminal court, under section 5-130 of the Juvenile Court Act as then in effect. While the charges were pending, a statutory amendment raised the age for automatic adult prosecution for the enumerated offenses from 15 to 16. The prosecution objected to a transfer, arguing that because the implementation of the amendment was delayed until January 1, 2016, it was presumed to have a prospective effect. The court transferred the cause to juvenile court, reasoning that, because the legislature had not indicated the temporal reach of the amendment, the temporal reach was determined by section 4 of the Statute on Statutes. The court concluded that the juvenile transfer statute was procedural and would apply retroactively. The Illinois Supreme Court rejected the state’s petition for mandamus. The amendment was retroactive under the Statute on Statutes and belongs in juvenile court, unless it is transferred to criminal court pursuant to a discretionary transfer hearing. View "Alvarez v. Howard" on Justia Law

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In 2010, the circuit court adjudicated Minnis a delinquent minor for committing the offense of criminal sexual abuse (720 ILCS 5/12-15(b) and sentenced him to 12 months’ probation. The adjudication for criminal sexual abuse rendered him a “sex offender” pursuant to the Registration Act (730 ILCS 150/2(A)(5), (B)(1); the court ordered Minnis to register as a sex offender. On December 17, 2010, defendant reported to the Normal police department to register. He disclosed his two e-mail addresses and his Facebook account. Defendant’s May 2011 registration form listed the same Internet information. Defendant registered again in August 2014, including his two e-mail addresses, but omitting his Facebook account. On September 9, Normal police officers viewed defendant’s publicly accessible Facebook profile online; Minnis had changed his Facebook cover photo only one month before his August 2014 registration. The circuit court of McLean County dismissed a charge of failure to register, finding that the Internet disclosure provision was overbroad in violation of the First Amendment. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed and remanded for trial, treating the challenge as one to facial validity. The Internet disclosure provision survives intermediate scrutiny. It advances a substantial governmental interest without chilling more speech than necessary. View "People v. Minnis" on Justia Law

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Defendant was charged with aggravated robbery, a Class 1 felony (720 ILCS 5/18-5). Before trial, the prosecution and defense agreed that the sentencing range would be 4-30 years. Defendant’s counsel stated that the state had tendered a “certified court docket from the ’04 JD case” indicating that defendant, as a juvenile, had been adjudicated delinquent on multiple counts of residential burglary, which would make defendant eligible for an extended-term sentence. Counsel also indicated that defendant denied having an adjudication for residential burglary. The court admonished defendant that he faced a sentencing range of 4-30 years. At trial, the evidence was limited to the aggravated robbery charge. No evidence regarding defendant’s prior juvenile adjudication was introduced. The jury found defendant guilty. A presentencing investigative report indicated that defendant, as a juvenile, had been adjudicated delinquent in 2005 of multiple offenses, including three counts of residential burglary. The appellate court and Illinois Supreme Court affirmed defendant’s extended-term sentence of 24 years’ imprisonment, rejecting arguments that the sentence violated Supreme Court rulings in Apprendi v. New Jersey (2000) and Shepard v. United States (2005). Defendant’s prior juvenile adjudication is the equivalent of a prior conviction under Apprendi and falls within Apprendi’s prior-conviction exception and an exception in section 111-3(c-5) of the Illinois Criminal Code. The state was not required to allege the fact of his juvenile adjudication in the indictment or prove its existence beyond a reasonable doubt. View "People v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Reyes, then 16, was convicted of the first-degree murder of Ventura and the attempted murders of two others, having discharged a firearm in the direction of a vehicle occupied by the three. Prosecuted as an adult, he received the mandatory minimum sentence of 45 years’ imprisonment for the murder conviction plus 26 years’ imprisonment for each of the two attempted murder convictions. The sentences were required to run consecutively, resulting in aggregate sentence of 97 years’ imprisonment. Under the truth in sentencing statute he was required to serve a minimum of 89 years before he would be eligible for release. In the appellate court, defendant cited Miller v. Alabama (2012), in which the Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment “forbids a sentencing scheme that mandates life in prison without possibility of parole for juvenile offenders.” The Court clarified that life-without-parole sentences must be based on judicial discretion rather than statutory mandates. The appellate court held that Miller applied only to actual sentences of life without the possibility of parole and not to aggregate consecutive sentences. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed. A mandatory term-of-years sentence that cannot be served in one lifetime has the same practical effect on a juvenile defendant’s life as would an actual mandatory sentence of life without parole—in either situation, the juvenile will die in prison. Miller makes clear that a juvenile may not be sentenced to a mandatory, unsurvivable prison term without first considering in mitigation his youth, immaturity, and potential for rehabilitation. View "People v. Reyes" on Justia Law

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The state sought adjudication of wardship against Michael, charging him with misdemeanor theft. Count I alleged that he obtained control over property of another under circumstances that would have reasonably induced him to believe that it was stolen. Count 2 alleged that he committed theft by deception. Following Michael’s conviction on Count 2, the probation officer recommended that Michael be placed on supervision for one year. The state recommended a sentence of one year’s probation and restitution of $160. The court continued the case under supervision for one year, referred Michael for evaluation, and ordered him to pay $160 in restitution. The continuance was memorialized in a “Supervision Order” and a “Sentencing Order.” On the sentencing order, the judge checked the box for “No finding or judgment of guilty entered.” The court did not adjudge Michael a ward of the court, but advised Michael of his appeal rights, and appointed the State Appellate Defender to represent him. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court’s dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. While a recent statutory change allows supervision orders to be entered in juvenile cases after a finding of guilt (705 ILCS 405/5-615(1)(b)), the change did not make such interlocutory orders appealable under any supreme court rule. View "In re Michael D." on Justia Law

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M.A., then 13 years old, fought with her 14-year-old brother and cut him with a kitchen knife. M.A. was adjudicated delinquent of several offenses and ordered to register under the Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registration Act, 730 ILCS 154/1. M.A. argued that the registration provisions violated her rights to substantive and procedural due process and equal protection. The Appellate Court rejected the substantive due process claim, but found the registration provisions unconstitutional for violating procedural due process and equal protection. The Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the registration requirement. Current dangerousness is not relevant to the duty to register, so M.A. did not have a due process right to a hearing to address that issue. The Act requires registration solely based upon the fact of conviction or adjudication, which M.A. had a procedurally safeguarded opportunity to contest during her juvenile adjudication proceedings. M.A. did not challenge her adjudication as a juvenile delinquent on appeal. Given that the charges for which M.A. is required to register would be felonies if M.A. committed those acts as an adult, and that those charges require a finding that the offender caused “great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement,” there is a rational relationship between M.A.’s registration and protection of the public. View "In re M.A." on Justia Law